New BMBF Project at IPQ: STARFALL
In the project running from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2024, the researches at IPQ will collaborate with multiple reputable industry partners to work on multiple topics related to space-division multiplexed optical fiber communication.
Fiber-optic communication systems constitute the backbone of our modern society, which is coined by a connection of millions of users and devices. There is no hint that the trend towards globalization and digitization will stop or make a turn soon. Quite the contrary, data-driven innovations such as 5G mobile communications, cloud computing, video streaming, and the fourth industrial revolution are expected to result in a further exponential increase of the overall data traffic. By exploiting both quadrature dimensions, polarization multiplexing, and wavelength-division multiplexing, researchers have already approached the fundamental limit of single-mode fibers. To scale the capacity of the fiber channel even further. spatial-division multiplexing (SDM) in parallel fibers or various modes of a multimode or multicore fiber is envisioned. Energy-efficient use of such super-channels requires an array of transceivers that are integrated into a single chip and can communicate and cooperate. Frequency comb generators allow supplying light to all transceivers from a single integrated source, leading to phase locking of the carriers and improved performance, while also reducing costs. The project STARFALL (“Skalierbare Terminalarchitekturen und -subsysteme für faseroptisches Raummultiplexing”) aims at developing novel optical frequency comb generators based on electro-optic modulators or silicon-nitride micro resonators. The research results will finally be transferred into a turn-key demonstrator operating in real-time. Another focus of the project is enhancing the digital signal processing (DSP) routines used in SDM systems. The novel algorithms will enable flexible real-time processing for different use cases that each come with an individual spatial coupling of the fiber modes.