PASSION transmitters and receivers: 10-fold power-consumption reduction

In the last decade we assisted to a continuous development of the fiber optic networks for metropolitan applications, but we are now facing a bottleneck in the transmission and the routing of the huge amount of data due to the dramatic increase in the users number, in the content size, and to the convergence of mobile and datacom networks. Photonics is a key enabling technology for the evolution of the entire telecommunications infrastructure, but the technologies used so far for the metro network directly derive from the long-distance transport and they are too expensive and power hungry.

PASSION is a platform based on photonic technologies supporting the development of the future metropolitan communications network, characterized by very high transmission capacity, low cost and reduced energy consumption. Innovative transmission, detection and routing solutions and a new network architecture to ensure a transmission rate of over 100 Tb/s per link and a switching capacity of over 1 Pb/s per node. PASSION will develop an innovative technological platform based on directly-modulated vertically emitting laser sources (VCSEL) and on multi-channel coherent receivers integrated on Silicon-Photonics technology, providing high modularity and aggregating signal flows with a capacity of 16 Tb/s per channel and 112 Tb/s per link exploiting a 7-core fiber.

PASSION technologies will achieve a 10-fold power-consumption reduction with respected to commercially available modules based on externally modulated traditional sources. The dimensions of the PASSION modules will be even 3 orders lower than the current WDM solutions. Thanks to these innovative transmitters and receivers PASSION will design a flexible network architecture, optimized for metro applications, based on aggregated signal flows, exploiting the full wavelength spectrum and the "space" dimension in a multi-core fiber. Photonic devices capable of aggregating/disaggregating and/or routing data flows in spectrum and/or in space will allow a switching capacity of 1 Pb/s node. The metro network architecture developed in PASSION will thus provide a full programmability to match the traffic evolution and the increasing communications needs of our society.

PASSION (Photonic technologies for a programmable transmission and switching modular systems based on Scalable Spectrum/space aggregation for future high capacity metrO Networks) launched in December 2017 by 12 partners (CTTC, Telefonica and VLC Photonics - Spain, TU Eindhoven and Effect Photonics – The Netherlands, Vertilas - Germany, VTT - Finland, Opsys Technologies - Israel, SM Optics - Italy, EPIC - France, NICT - Japan, ETRI - South Korea) coordinated by Politecnico di Milano - Italy. A three-year project, funded by one of the calls under the Photonic Private Partnership (PPP) Photonics21 of the Horizon 2020 European program, with a total budget of almost 8.5 million euros.