News Feature | April 21, 2017

A*STAR Research Model Enables Simultaneous Electrical And Optical Simulation Inside Modulator

By Jof Enriquez
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Fiber Optic

Scientists working at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore have developed and tested a simulation model that allows simultaneous electrical-optical interaction inside an optical modulator — an electro-optical device that modifies light by applying electrical pulses. The method could drastically improve the efficiency of electro-optical interfaces used in current and next-generation communication networks.

Because optical fibers use light to transmit a greater capacity of data over long distances at amazing speeds, they are preferred over conventional electronic systems. But many telecommunications networks today still use conventional electronic components at each end of the optical fiber, which limits the speed and fidelity of data transmission. In order to surmount this challenge, researchers are trying to integrate electro-optical interfaces with silicon-based electronic circuits. However, this approach brings certain constraints, including complex computational requirements.

"The problem is that two types of simulation must usually be performed for such research work – electrical followed by optical simulation using two different types of software. This is computationally expensive in terms of simulation time and resources," said Soon Thor Lim, a researcher at the A*STAR Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC). "Our in-house code performs both electrical and optical simulation in one single platform with no loss in data fidelity."

With A*STAR's model, Lim and colleagues were able to view the electrical-optical interaction inside a silicon optical modulator by showing the light intensity as an overlay on the modulator's distribution of electronic properties, according to a news release. To optimize the modulator's performance, they are able to adjust the precise position of the nanoscale features and electronic properties.

"With modeling and optimization using our in-house code, we can design a silicon modulator with best-in-class performance which will facilitate the development of low-loss, high-speed optical data transmission systems," Lim added.

Lim and co-authors Ching Eng Png and Min Jie Sun explain their achievement in a research study entitled, "Numerical Modeling and Analysis for High-Efficiency Carrier-Depletion Silicon Rib-Waveguide Phase Shifters," which was published in a recent issue of IEEE’s Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics.

Computational modeling, simulation, and visualization methodologies are some of the tools being used by researchers at A*STAR IHPC to explore six main research areas: electronic and photonics, computing science, fluid dynamics, materials science and engineering, and social and cognitive computing.