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Q&A with Richard Soref - Final Part

In the final part of the interview with Gazettabyte, Richard Soref talks about hybrid and monolithic integration, mid-infrared optics, how his photonics predictions made in a 2006 paper have fared, 2-micron-based optical communications, and his talk at OFC in March.

"In a rosy future, every smart phone, tablet, wrist watch, and hand-held device would contain one of these chemical-medical-physical sensors."

Richard Soref


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Q&A with photonics pioneer, Richard Soref - Part 1

Richard Soref has spend over 50 years researching photonics, contributing groundbreaking work in the areas of liquid crystals, silicon photonics and the broader topic of mid-infrared wavelengths and Group IV photonics. For 27 years he was employed at the Air Force Research Laboratory. He has also worked at the Sperry Research Center, the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and is now a research professor at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

In part 1 of a two-part interview with Gazettabyte, he details his research interests, explains what is meant by Group IV photonics, and discusses why photonics has not matched the semiconductor industry in terms of integration, and how that could change. 


"Optics is a seemingly small subset of physics but really optics is a huge field with a deep, variegated nature waiting to be discovered"

Richard Soref


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Graphene prototype modulator shown working at 10 Gigabit 

  • Imec's graphene electro-absorption modulator works at 10 Gigabit-per-second
  • The modulator is small and has be shown to be thermally stable
  • Much work is required to develop the modulator commercially


Cross-section of the graphene electro-absorption modulator. The imec work was first detailed in a paper at the IEDM conference held in December 2014 in San Francisco. Source: imec

Imec has demonstrated an optical modulator using graphene operating at up to 10 Gigabit. The Belgium nano-electronics centre is exploring graphene - carbon atoms linked in a 2D sheet - as part of its silicon photonics research programme investigating next-generation optical interconnect. Chinese vendor Huawei joined imec's programme late last year.

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Nuage uses SDN to aid enterprise connectivity needs

Simplifying the connectivity services enterprises require for their remote offices is the goal of Nuage Networks's recently launched Virtualised Network Services (VNS). The Alcatel-Lucent spin-in has expanding the capabilities of its software-defined networking (SDN) product to address applications beyond the data centre.

"Across the WAN and out to the branch, the context is increasingly complicated, with the need to deliver legacy and cloud applications to users - and sometimes customers - that are increasingly mobile, spanning several networks," says Brad Casemore, research director, data centre networks at IDC. These networks can include MPLS, Metro Ethernet, broadband and 3G and 4G wireless.


The data centre is a great microcosm of the network - Houman Modarres

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Ciena offers enterprises vNF pick and choose 

Ciena, working with partners, has developed a platform for service providers to offer enterprises network functions they can select and configure with the click of a button.

Dubbed Agility Matrix, the product enables enterprises to choose their IT and connectivity services using software running on servers. It also promises to benefit service providers' revenues, enabling more adventurous service offerings due to the flexibility and new business models the virtual network functions (vNFs) enable. Currently, managed services require specialist equipment and on-site engineering visits for their set-up and management, while the contracts tend to be lengthy and inflexible.

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Huawei joins imec to research silicon photonics

Huawei has joined imec, the Belgium nano-electronics research centre, to develop optical interconnect using silicon photonics technology. The strategic agreement follows Huawei's 2013 acquisition of former imec silicon photonics spin-off, Caliopa.


Source: Gazettabyte

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Mobile fronthaul: A Q&A with LightCounting's John Lively

LightCounting Market Research' s report finds that mobile fronthaul networks will use over 14 million optical transceivers in 2014, resulting in a market valued at US $530 million. This is roughly the size to the FTTX market. However, unlike FTTX, sales of fronthaul transceivers will nearly double in the next five years, to exceed $900 million. A Q&A with LightCounting's principal analyst, John Lively.

Q. What is mobile fronthaul?

There is a simple explanation for mobile front-haul but that belies how complicated it is.

The equipment manufacturers got together about 10 years ago and came up with the idea to separate the functionality within a base station. The idea is that if you separate the functionality into two parts, you can move some of it to the tower and thereby reduce the equipment, power and space needed in the hut below. That is the distributed base station.

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