The Graphene Pavilion at the GSMA Mobile World Congress has showcased two fascinating graphene-based photonics devices. The first is said to be the world's first all-graphene optical communication link operating at a data rate of 25 Gb/s per channel, and the second one, displayed at the Ericsson stand, is the first ultra-fast graphene-based photonic switch in an Ericsson testbed. These graphene-based photonic devices may become the building blocks of the next generation of mobile networks.
"5G will all be about optical communications, and the realization of the ultra-fast optical communication link with graphene is a real breakthrough. It is very exciting that it is already on display at the Ericsson stand," said ICREA Professor Frank Koppens from ICFO (The Institute of Photonic Sciences), Barcelona, the Scientific Chair of the Graphene Pavilion.
The Graphene Flagship is the presenter of the above-mentioned all-graphene optical communication link operating at a data rate of 25 Gb/s per channel. The key aspect of this demonstration is that all active electro-optical operations are performed by graphene devices. On the transmitter side, a graphene modulator encodes an electronic data stream onto an optical carrier, then transferred to the receiver through an optical fibre. The receiver contains a graphene photodetector that converts the incoming optical data signal back into an electronic signal.
"The current challenge for graphene photonics is to develop a fabrication technology that enables not only single devices with superior performance but mass production of millions of devices. With the all graphene datalink we take a significant step towards this goal because we demonstrate that devices fabricated using volume production techniques are functional in a real configuration," said Daniel Schall from AMO GmbH.
Integration of graphene-based photonic components into existing communication environments is key for the next generation of data transfer. Ericsson is to be showing the first graphene-based optical ultra-fast interconnection in mobile access networks, with power efficient optical switching performance by overcoming the need of thermal control. A first prototype of a functional graphene-based photonic switch, designed to be applicable in datacomms and 5G networks, will be showcased. 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 basic switch element showcased by Ericsson at Mobile World Congress 2018 aims to be a significant step towards enabling a wide range of advanced services over a feature-rich optical network, while keeping the overall cost low, increase transmission capacity, and reduce latency to the benefit of the telecom operators and their customers," said Antonio D'Errico, Senior Researcher, Ericsson.