Photonic Integrated Circuit that Combines a Tunable Laser and Optical Modulator

JDSU, a leading enabler of broadband and optical innovation, today announced it has successfully demonstrated a photonic integrated circuit (PIC) that combines a tunable laser and optical modulator, using a technology known as the Integrated Laser Mach Zehnder (ILMZ). The new PIC will allow JDSU to develop smaller, higher performance and more cost-effective tunable solutions that support faster network speeds.

Tunable lasers are a key element required for the successful deployment of agile optical networks (AON). AONs are deployed by service providers to scale network infrastructures and replace slow, manual operations with simplified, dynamic network solutions that can quickly respond to fluctuating traffic traveling over fiber optic networks. Research firm CIR predicts that the market for tunable lasers will prosper over the next five years, with compound annual growth of 37 percent and a total market value of nearly $1 billion by 2012.

JDSU's ILMZ-based tunable laser solutions will take up significantly less space in service providers' network equipment racks and use less power, in turn reducing data center rental costs and power bills.

"At JDSU, we believe that a more compact and integrated approach toward tunable lasers is critical as service providers strive for greater efficiency in their networks," said Alex Schoenfelder, vice president and general manager of Integrated Photonics at JDSU. "Integration at the PIC level will help to lower costs and enable high-volume manufacturing that allows us to best serve our customers as network demands continue to increase."

The new PIC includes a widely tunable laser and Mach Zehnder modulator on a single chip that is small enough to fit on the tip of a finger. It will be incorporated into full-band tunable transponders and transceivers within compact packages, such as the 300-PIN small form factor (SFF) and pluggable small form factors (XFP) starting in 2008. The new technology also enables JDSU to support transmission speeds greater than 11.3 Gigabits per second and is scalable to support 40G networks.

JDSU leveraged its years of expertise at photonic integration to develop the new PIC. Photonic integration technology uses semiconductor processes to form the materials and structures of the desired photonic circuit on a semiconductor wafer. The wafer is then sliced into hundreds of chips, each containing a circuit. After testing, each chip is incorporated into the appropriate product package. This expertise, combined with a sophisticated manufacturing approach is what enables JDSU to incorporate high levels of functionality into tiny chips for many of its optical products, avoiding unnecessary packaging.

Recent and dramatic growth in data, voice and video traffic over dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) networks has stimulated demand for tunable lasers, a key element of AONs, as service providers upgrade components within their networks to support more capacity. AONs are based on "dynamic reconfigurability," which allows service providers to simplify network management and optimize network activity by using flexible optical equipment.

Tunable lasers provide dynamic reconfigurability by allowing network operators to switch from one wavelength to another on demand, easing the cost of purchasing, storing and managing spare devices for wavelength management.

Before the advent of tunable lasers, service providers used fixed wavelength lasers, which meant holding expensive inventory to support each wavelength. The overhead associated with managing this inventory was difficult at all levels of the supply chain. Since wavelength activity could not be predicted, providers would often face supply shortages for specific wavelengths, compromising the bandwidth capacity of the network.

Today, a single tunable laser can cover nearly a hundred 50 GHz spaced channels in a DWDM system. They can either be used as a universal source to support a particular wavelength, or can be switched to support different wavelengths on demand. JDSU's new PIC solutions with ILMZ technology will further streamline network management and reduce costs for service providers by providing tunable laser solutions in smaller form factors.

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