METROGRAPH Spearhead Project
METROGRAPH to develop graphene-enabled optical transceiver
The application market for photonic integrated circuits is rapidly growing. Photonic integration is set to be a dominant technology in high bandwidth communications, but to enable uptake in new sectors, the barriers to new entrants must be lowered. The METROGRAPH Spearhead Project, announced by the Graphene Flagship, is developing a wide spectrum optical receiver that uses one single technology, graphene photonics, across both the transmitter and receiver, to reduce the costs of photonics integration.
Optical receivers with high bandwidth and low costs, are receiving considerable interest due to rapidly growing data traffic. Indium phosphide (INP)-based coherent transmitters are currently the norm, supported by bipolar complementary meta-oxide-semiconductor (BiCMOS) drivers. As a cheaper alternative, graphene is an ideal material for optoelectronic applications. Its photonic properties give several advantages over conventional materials. For example, graphene enables both electro-absorption and electro-refraction.
Nokia and Finisar are leading this project, with ambitious objectives. The main goal of METROGRAPH is to develop a wavelength agnostic, wide spectrum 200G coherent optical transceiver, including both the transmitter and receiver, based on graphene photonic chips. The final product will operate in two main telecommunication windows; conventional band (C-band) and long-wavelength band (L-band), covering wavelengths of 1530–1625 nm.
"One single technology, Graphene photonics, can offer high performances over a very wide operating spectrum of 1530–1625 nm with a single material," explained Paola Galli, leader of the METROGRAPH Spearhead Project and Nokia IP and Optical networks Member of Technical Staff. "Our final product will be a transceiver module containing a closely co-packaged graphene-photonic and electronic integrated chip."
The product will be ready after qualification tests at the component manufacturer and then at the system company. The breakthroughs from the project are set to benefit the European electronics sector greatly, making photonic integration more accessible to smaller and start-up businesses.