Winter 2018 Optical Connections Magazine


Graphene promises a significant step in performance of key components for optical and radio communications beyond the performance limits of today’s conventional semiconductor-based component technologies

RADICAL CHANGE A paper published by The Flagship in the journal Nature, in October 2018, looked at the possibilities of graphene in the emerging Internet of Everything market. Nokia and Bell Labs researchers also contributed to this vision for the future of graphene photonic integration, with Nokia being a Graphene Flagship partner. Now, researchers and companies across Europe have demonstrated the ultra- wide bandwidth communications and low power consumption that graphene- integrated devices possess. The Flagship says that these properties “will radically change the way that data is transmitted across the optical communications system. Graphene- integrated devices may become the key element of the future in IoT, the evolution of 5G and Industry 4.0.” So how will this mysterious material do all of this? The paper explains: “Graphene enables ultra-wide bandwidth communications coupled with low power consumption, with potential to surpass the needs of 5G, IoT and Industry 4.0.” Researchers within the Graphene Flagship project have shown that integrated graphene-based photonic devices offer a unique solution for the next generation of optical communications. The properties of graphene enable ultra-wide bandwidth communications coupled with low power consumption, which will “radically change the way data is transmitted across the optical communications systems,” says the Flagship. As conventional semiconductor technologies are approaching their physical limitations, we need to explore entirely new technologies to realise our most ambitious visions of a future networked global society,” explains Wolfgang Templ, Department Head Graphene Flagship partner. He adds, “Graphene promises a significant step in performance of key components for optical and radio communications beyond the performance limits of today’s conventional semiconductor-based component technologies.” of Transceiver Research at Nokia Bell Labs in Germany, which is a

GAME CHANGER Paola Galli, Nokia IP and Optical networks Member of Technical Staff, agrees: “Graphene photonics offer a combination of advantages to become the game changer. We need to explore new materials to go beyond the limits of current technologies and meet the capacity needs of future networks.” The Graphene Flagship presents a vision for the future of graphene-based integrated photonics, and provides strategies for improving power consumption, manufacturability and wafer-scale integration. With this new publication, the Graphene Flagship partners also provide a roadmap for graphene-based photonics devices surpassing the technological requirement for the evolution of datacom and telecommarkets driven by 5G, IoT, and the Industry 4.0. “Graphene integrated in a photonic circuit is a low cost, scalable technology that can operate fibre links at a very high data rates,” said Marco Romagnoli, from Graphene Flagship partner CNIT, the National Interuniversity Consortium for Telecommunications in Italy. Antonio D’Errico fromGraphene Flagship partner Ericsson Research explains how “graphene for photonics has the potential to change the perspective of information and communications technology in a disruptive way.” “This paper published on Nature Reviews Materials, explains how to enable new feature rich optical networks. I am pleased to say that this fundamental information is now available to anyone interested around the globe,” he adds. This industrial and academic partnership, comprising companies and research centres in five different European countries has developed a compelling vision for the future of graphene photonic integration. The team involves researchers from CNIT, Ericsson, IMEC, Nokia, Nokia Bell Labs, AMO, ICFO and the University of Cambridge. These collaborations are at the heart of the Graphene Flagship, set up by the European Commission to support the commercialisation of graphene and related materials until 2023. So, who knows what remarkable advances lie ahead for the optical communications industry in 2019.

Genova, Italy, demonstrated for the first time that graphene not only shows a good optical response, but also how the strength of this effect can be controlled using an electric field. Researches envision the creation of new graphene optical switches, which could also harness new optical frequencies to transmit data along optical cables, increasing the amount of data that can be transmitted. Currently, most commercial devices using nonlinear optics are only used in spectroscopy. Graphene could pave the way towards the fabrication of new devices for ultra-broad bandwidth applications. “Our work shows that the third harmonic generation efficiency in graphene can be increased by over 10 times by tuning an applied electric field,” explained Giancarlo Soavi, lead author of the paper and researcher at the Cambridge Graphene Centre. “The authors found again something unique about graphene: tuneability of THG over a broad wavelength range. As more and more applications are all-optical, this work paves the way to a multitude of technologies,” said said ICREA Professor Frank Koppens from ICFO (The Institute of Photonic Sciences), Barcelona, Spain, who is the leader of the Photonics and Optoelectronics Work Package within the Graphene Flagship. Professor Andrea C. Ferrari, Science and Technology Officer of the Graphene Flagship, and Chair of its Management Panel, added how “graphene never ceases to surprise us when it comes to optics and photonics.” He also highlights that “the Graphene Flagship has put significant investment to study and exploit the optical properties of graphene. This collaborative work could lead to optical devices working on a range of frequencies broader than ever before, thus enabling a larger volume of information to be processed or transmitted.” European research and development group the Graphene Flagship says the recently discovered material – a crystalline form of carbon with two- dimensional properties – has “unique potential to exceed bandwidth demands of future telecommunications”.


ISSUE 15 | Q4 2018

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