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Silicon Photonics

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OFC/NFOEC 2010: Technical paper highlights 

At this year’s OFC/NFOEC, to be held on March 21-25, all the main themes driving optical networking are represented:  40 and 100Gbps transmission, coherent detection, photonic integration, and the latest in optical access such as WDM-PON.

Here is a sample of some of the noteworthy papers.


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Framing the information age

Maurice Broomfield is a 94-year-old photographer who has documented examples of 20th century industry. His lifelong work is about to be shown at two exhibitions in the UK, as detailed in an interview with the Financial Times. It made me wonder whether anyone is doing the equivalent for telecom and datacom? Mega data centres as IT cathedrals?

When writing features for FibreSystems Europe, I repeatedly asked for high-resolution striking images. The magazine's editors always wanted photos that included people, like Maurice Broomfield's photos.  Getting hold of such images did happen but not often.

Inspired by the Financial Times’ interview and Maurice Broomfield's beautiful images, some of the better images sent are presented here.


IBM data centre

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UNIC silicon modulator

Kotura has detailed a compact, low-power silicon-based optical modulator; an important building block to enable dense on-chip optical interconnects. The modulator operates at up to 11Gbit/s, consumes 0.5mW and has an area of 1000µm2.

This is the silicon photonic start-up’s first announced modulator. The design has been developed in conjunction with Sun Microsystems as part of the DAPRA Ultraperformance Nanophotonic Intrachip Communications (UNIC) programme.


An image of the modulator and a cross-section diagram of the ring waveguide. Source: Kotura

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Service providers' network planning in need of an overhaul

Operators are struggling to keep up with the demands being placed on their networks. Greater competition, quicker introductions of new services and uncertainty regarding their uptake are forcing operators to reassess how they undertake network planning. 

These are the findings of an operator study conducted by Analysys Mason on behalf of Amdocs, the business and operational support systems (BSS/ OSS) vendor.

Columns (left to right): 1) Stove-pipe solutions and legacy systems with no time-lined consolidated view 2) Too much time spent on manual processes 3) Too much time (or too little time) and investment on integration efforts with different OSS 4) Lack of consistent processes or tools to roll-out same resources/ technologies 5) Competition difficulties 6) Delays in launching new services. Source: Analysys MasonClick here to view full chart

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Why optical transceiver vendors are like discus-throwers


Guest blog on Lightwave magazine, click here.


Optical core switching tops 4 Terabit-per-second.

After the launch of Alcatel-Lucent's 1870 TTS optical core switch, three experts comment.


Alcatel-Lucent has launched its 1870 Transport Tera Switch (TTS) that has a switch capacity of 4 Terabits-per-second (Tbps). The platform switches and grooms traffic at 1Gbps granularity while supporting lightpaths up to 100Gbps.

“It is designed to address the explosion of traffic in core networks, driven by video and the move to cloud computing among others,” says Alberto Valsecchi, vice president of marketing, optics activities at Alcatel-Lucent.

The 1870 TTS supports next-generation Optical Transport Network (OTN), carrier Ethernet and SONET/SDH protocols, as well as generalized multiprotocol label switching/ automatically switched optical network(GMPLS/ ASON) control plane technology to enable network management and traffic off-load between the IP core and optical layers.


It [the 1870 TTS]  is designed to address the explosion of traffic in core networks"

Alberto Valsecchi, Alcatel-Lucent



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Optical transceivers: Pouring a quart into a pint pot 

Transceiver feature - 3rd and final part

Optical equipment and transceiver makers have much in common.  Both must contend with the challenge of yearly network traffic growth and both are addressing the issue similarly: using faster interfaces, reducing power consumption and making designs more compact and flexible.  

Yet if equipment makers and transceiver vendors share common technical goals, the market challenges they face differ. For optical transceiver vendors, the challenges are particularly complex.

LightCounting's global optical transceiver sales forecast. In 2009 the market was $2.10bn and will rise to $3.42bn in 2013

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