17:55 05 April 2017
Beams that are used to improve phased-array antennas have a speed limit in how they can be manipulated. These beams, which are crucial to modern Wi-Fi systems, are formed by adjusting a microwave signal’s timing at different antennas in MIMO systems. Australian photonics researchers have cheated a little and recently created a chip-delay line that operates in the optical domain using interface and the power of the optical signal.
Ben Eggleton, director of Australia's Centre for Ultrahigh Bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS), said: “When it comes to manipulating and processing microwave signals … as you go beyond 10 GHz, it becomes inherently more difficult,” he said, so “rather than manipulate the microwave signal directly, we take it in through the coax, and modulate it onto a photonic carrier.”
In an optical signal, something like a delay line is very simple both to implement and to reconfigure.
Eggleton added that much of the technology needed for CUDOS's reconfigurable delay lines is common: “we can leverage all the infrastructure developed for telecom – 1.5 micron technology, fibre optics, and all the processing techniques we've developed for that.”