Digital & Microwave Photonics

Digital & Microwave Photonics

The area activities can be divided in two main topics: digital photonics and microwave photonics.

Digital photonics aim at developing photonic subsystems for carrying out digital and analogue functionalities in optical domain suitable to operate ad high bit rate. Logic operations, flip-flop and memories, switching and add/drop functions, wavelength and modulation format conversions, regeneration and clock recovery are the main subsystems that this area is facing for OOK signals and for PSK/QAM signals as well. Bulk and integrated solutions are under investigation exploiting mature techonlogies and new promising photonics technologies as well (III-V, LiNbO3, silicon etc..). Experimental demonstration of the proof of concept and the design of integrated advanced implementation are being developing. In the past the first all-optical regeneration scheme working at 160 Gb/s and the first photonic logic processor working at 640 Gb/s for OOK signals have been presented. Recently multiformat photonic functionalities have been demonstrated. This area topic also includes the design of optical advanced node architectures for high capacity, and flexible optical networks.

Currently the orbital angular momentum (OAM) of light as additional multiplexing domain is under investigation within the H2020 European ROAM project.

Microwave photonics concerns the development of photonics-assisted RF transceivers for high-frequency and ultra wideband (UWB) coherent radars, millimeter waveband (MMW) communications and dual use systems (TLC and surveillance). Photonics techniques are used for the RF signal generation for ensuring extremely high signal stability, and extremely flexible signal generation, while the RF signal detection is based on photonic ADCs for assuring high resolution in a fully digital approach, flexibility and wide bandwidth. Field trials for the first photonic-assisted radar and dual use radio system have been developed and presented on the prestigious scientific journal NATURE. Integrated architecture of radar and lidar systems have also been investigated for applications as environment monitoring, high precision agriculture and automotive. Integrated prototypes of the RF photonic-based transceivers are also under development. Si and III-V technologies are being exploited. Related activities included in the microwave photonics topics are:

  • Optical beamforming for phased array radars
  • optical RF scanning for electronic countermeasures
  • Photonic-assisted hybrid active and passive radars
  • Fiber-based antenna remoting
  • Photonic-assisted RF transceiver for radio over fiber