Academic Commons

Theses Doctoral

Systems Engineering for Silicon Photonic Devices

Zhu, Xiaoliang

The increasing integration of digital information with our daily lives has led to the rise of big data, cloud computing, and the internet of things. The growth in these categories will lead to an exponential increase in the required capacity for data centers and high performance computation. Meanwhile, due to bottlenecks in data access caused by the limited energy and bandwidth scalability of electrical interconnects, computational speedup can no longer scale with demand. A better solution is necessary in order to increase computational performance and reduce the carbon footprint of our digital future.
People have long thought of photonic interconnects, which can offer higher bandwidth, greater energy efficiency, and orders-of-magnitude distance scalability compared to electrical interconnects, as a solution to the data access bottleneck in chip, board, and datacenter scale networks. Over the past three decades we have seen impressive growth of photonic technology from theoretical predictions to high-performance commercially available devices. However, the dream of an all-optical interconnection network for use in CPU, Memory, and rack-to-rack datacenter interconnects is not yet realized. Many challenges and obstacles still have to be addressed. This work investigates these challenges and describe some of the ways to overcome them.
First we will first examine the pattern sensitivity of microring modulators, which are likely to be found as the first element in an optical interconnect. My work will illustrate the advantage of using depletion mode modulators compared to injection mode modulators as the number of consecutive symbols in the data pattern increases.
Next we will look at the problem of thermal initialization for microring demultiplexers near the output of the optical interconnect. My work demonstrates the fastest achieved initialization speed to-date for a microring based demultiplexer. I will also explore an thermal initialization and control method for microrings based on temperature measurement using a pn-junction.
Finally, we will look at how to control and initialize microring and MZI based optical switch fabrics, which is the second element found in a optical interconnect. Work here will show the possibility of switching high-speed WDM datastreams through microring based switches, as well as methods to deal with the complexities inherent in control and initialization of high-radix switch topologies.
Through these demonstrations I hope to show that the challenges facing optical interconnects, although very real, are surmountable using reasonable engineering efforts.


  • thumnail for Zhu_columbia_0054D_13047.pdf Zhu_columbia_0054D_13047.pdf binary/octet-stream 59.5 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Electrical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Bergman, Keren
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
November 10, 2015