ASTRID - Accompagnement spécifique des travaux de recherches et d’innovation défense

Nanophotonic approach to All-Optical Sampling of microwave signals – ETHAN

Submission summary

ETHAN project aims at demonstrating a high-performance analogic to digital converter using a
photonic circuit to perform high-speed and high precision sampling and time-interleaving. This device will
feed off-the-shelf electronic converters in parallel. The motivation of this research is in the recent
breakthrough of nanophotonic-based all-optical gates and the demonstration of their potential for high-
speed sampling made by the partners of this project. Indeed, the combination of nonlinear photonic crystal
cavities made of III-V semiconductors and a low jitter mode-locked laser, has enabled the sampling of a
microwave signal (at 13 GHz) on an optical carrier. Remarkably, we have demonstrated a dynamic range of
50 dB, while the average power of the optical clock was about 1 mW for multi-GHz sampling rate. This is
crucial for the future integration of multiple gates and the use of a very compact mode-locked laser.
In this project, we will first evaluate the performances of the whole sampling and digitizing process,
in particular in terms of number of effective bits. Then, we will develop the concept of time-interleaving at
the photonic level by combining four all-optical gates. The optical chip will perform both the sampling and
the serial to parallel conversion, which will distribute the high-rate flow of samples to several electronic
digitizers. This will be accomplished by integrating on the same chip also the optical circuitry required for
the synchronisation and the distribution of the clock. The approach will be based on the integration of the
III-V gates on a silicon chip.
This technology will enable to overcome the current speed limitation of high resolution (number of
effective bits) digitizers required in defence, in particular in the domain of electronic warfare, but also
crucial for the emerging application in high-definition, three dimensional imagery in medicine. The
technology used in this project is totally compatible with the spectral domain of optical
Telecommunications (specifically, the C-band, around 1.5 µm). Therefore, the project will benefit from the
echnical ecosystem of optical Telecommunication devices and instruments, but also from the existing
ultra-low-jitter fibre lasers. This will have a very favourable impact on the development costs of this

Project coordination

Alfredo DE ROSSI (Thales Research & Technology France)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


LPN Laboratoire de photonique et nanostructures - CNRS UPR20
UPSud/IEF Université Paris-Sud / Institut d'Electronique Fondamentale
LPN (CNRS DR IDF SUD) Laboratoire de Photonique et Nanostructures
TRT Thales Research & Technology France

Help of the ANR 299,447 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: November 2015 - 30 Months

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