FPGA-controlled silicon photonic switches for datacenters
Project Description

This UG research project in optoelectronics and control aims to develop a method for feedback-control an optical switch on a silicon chip for high-speed data switching and routing in datacenters.

The technology field of silicon photonics has been booming over the past two decades. Silicon photonics leverages the existing CMOS processes to integrate photonics onto silicon chips. The objective is to integrate both electronics and photonics onto the same silicon platform for the present and future communications and computing needs. Universities worldwide including HKUST and industries such as IBM, Intel, HP, Nokia Bell, Oracle, Google, Huawei, etc., have long been investing major R&D efforts in studying and commercializing silicon photonic devices and systems for next-generation computing and communications. One major challenge that silicon photonics may offer a practical solution to is to enable a high-speed optical data switching (meaning the data remains in an optical carrier without converting to electrical signals, which has the benefits of broad bandwidth and low-power consumption) among a large number of servers in a datacenter. In order for such a silicon photonic switch system to be reconfigurable in a reliable manner, it is absolutely critical to find ways to monitor the switching states and pathways in real time, while exerting a proper feedback control.

This project calls for research and development of a control system based on a programmed FPGA in order to electrically feedback-control a silicon photonic switch that is coupled with optical fibers. The working principle of the control system can be based on an existing threshold-detection and/or slope-detection algorithm of the channel signal. The project will aim at controlling a silicon photonic chip fabricated by a commercial foundry.

POON Andrew Wing On
Course type
Applicant's Roles

[The project is opened to all students from SENG and SSCI]

- Laboratory work with integrated photonics, FPGA programming, designing/modeling control algorithms
- Study literature on the frontier of silicon photonics for optical interconnects in datacenters
- Give monthly project presentations

Strong interest in participating in UG research and hands-on laboratory work in integrated photonics, FPGA programming and control algorithms

Applicant's Learning Objectives

• A method to electrically feedback control a silicon photonic switch to realize reconfigurable, reliable, high-speed data switching and routing for datacenters

Complexity of the project