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Proceedings Paper

A comparison of switching energy of resonant and nonresonant electro-optic switches
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Paper Abstract

Optical space switching is an important functionality in dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) optical communication systems, particularly within reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexers (ROADMs) [1]. Current commercially available ROADMs are based on micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) or liquid crystal switches but these do not have sufficient switching speed for future network requirements. Power consumption (i.e. energy per switching operation multiplied by switching rate) is a very important parameter in the selection of a switching technology. Space switches based on current injection in silicon have been reported with nanosecond switching speeds and average power consumption on the order of mW [2], which becomes significant if many switches are required in a fabric. Electro-optic (EO) switches, which utilize the Pockels effect in which the refractive index changes when an external voltage is applied [3], only dissipate power when the switch state is changed. Electro-optic switches can be implemented either as non-resonant designs (for example the Mach-Zehnder interferometer (MZI)) or as resonant designs (for example the Fabry Perot interferometer (FPI)). In this study we compare the switching energies of electro optic MZI and FPI switches by considering the capacitance of the switch, which is determined by the length of the active region of the switch. We show that for a non-resonant switch, switching energy increases linearly with device length, regardless of applied voltage, and so is simply determined by the strength of the electro-optic coefficient. We assume that the resonant switch is implemented as a switchable comb filter [4], with a free-spectral range equal to twice the wavelength spacing. This then fixes the interferometer length. As a result the resonant switch has requires significantly less switching energy for the same material parameters and is thus of interest for future ROADM implementations.

Paper Details

Date Published: 24 October 2012
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 8412, Photonics North 2012, 841222 (24 October 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.2001326
Show Author Affiliations
Fatemeh Soltani, McGill Univ. (Canada)
Andrew G. Kirk, McGill Univ. (Canada)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8412:
Photonics North 2012
Jean-Claude Kieffer, Editor(s)

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