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John O | March 2018

Graphene-based photonic devices show future of Datacom at Mobile World Congress

By Josh Perry, Editor


At the recent GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the Graphene Flagship, a partnership of academic, research, and business organizations from across Europe, demonstrated the first all-graphene optical communication link that operates at 25 Gb/s and the first graphene-based photonic switches.


Ericsson researchers, Antonio D’Errico and Teresa Pepe, showing graphene-based photonic switch. (Ericsson)


According to a report from the Graphene Flagship, these products were the result of a collaboration between AMO GmbH and Nokia Bell Labs in Germany, CNIT and Nokia in Italy, Ericsson in Sweden, and Imec in Belgium.


The report explained, “As the world strives to meet the demand for ever increasing data transmission rates, more efficient data links hold the key. Within the European Graphene Flagship, the electronic and optic properties of graphene are used to fabricate optical communication devices at an entirely new performance level.”


With the continued development of 5G communications, faster connections are going to be paramount and the graphene-based photonic devices on display have the potential to direct future research into the use of the wonder-material.


All of the active electro-optical operations in the optical communication link are performed by graphene devices, including a graphene modulator that encodes data stream onto an optical carrier and a receiver with a graphene photodetector that coverts the data back to an electric signal.


Ericsson displayed a graphene-based optical interconnection for mobile access networks with power-efficient graphene switches. “The device works in an Ericsson testbed equipped with commercial 100 Gb/s transceivers cards and Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) network interconnection, operative in the C band and performing over 50 GHz fixed grid,” the report noted.


“This year we are proud to present, as a results of a close collaboration between leading industrial and academic partners of the Flagship, the first viable examples of graphene-based integrated photonics. This could lead to ultra-high spatial density, low power consumption for board and intra datacenter connectivity, access networks, metro, core, regional and long haul optical communications,” said Professor Andrea Ferrari, Graphene Flagship Science and Technology Officer and Chair of its Management Panel. 

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