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5G Spearhead Project

Developing graphene-based photonics for use in 5G network.

5G: Ready with graphene photonics

Over the last 25 years, data traffic has increased exponentially. While optical fibre amplifiers have previously been adequate for data sharing, new technologies are required to meet the growing bandwidth and power requirements of 5G. As part of its expanding Spearhead Project program, the Graphene Flagship launched an initiative to develop graphene-based photonics for use in 5G networks and it's already produced tangible results for industry.

Entitled Graphene photonics for the 5G era, the project objective was to deliver the world's first demonstration of a coherent graphene-based 5G transmission system. Led by the National Inter-University Consortium for Telecommunications (CNIT) in Italy, a Graphene Flagship partner institution, the project will see the development of a fully integrated transceiver where graphene silicon photonics and high-speed electronics are integrated in a fully-fledged transmission system.

According to data presented by Statistica, the number of 5G connections is predicted to reach up to 100 million by 2021. To cope with this growth, more advanced fibre technologies will be required to cater to the ever-increasing volume of 5G networks. The Graphene Flagship project will focus on the creation of a single mode fibre produced using graphene photonics technology.

The Graphene Flagship has long regarded graphene-based integrated phonics as a key area for future growth and investment — having included the technology in its technology roadmap to match the technology readiness requirements with telecommunication market demands. As a result, the Spearhead Project is in a good stead to develop this technology successfully.

"As part of the project, we have already witnessed the demonstration of a 50Gb per second electro-absorption modulator and 56Gb per seconds for the transmitter," explained Marco Romagnoli, Work Package Leader for Wafer-Scale System Integration at the Graphene Flagship. "The ultimate purpose of this initiative is to continue this successful development and demonstrate ultra-high capacity transmitter and receivers for 5G communications using graphene."

Graphene photonics for the 5G era is one of the Graphene Flagship's six introductory Spearhead Projects that are now coming to an end, enabling further discovery and industrial application beyond the projects. Eleven new application-oriented Spearhead Projects will begin their work in April 2020. 

As part of the project, we have already witnessed the 56Gbps for our graphene-enabled transmitter.

Marco Romagnoli
Wafer Scale Integration Leader