Integrated Optical Filters for Microwave Photonic Applications
Javier Sánchez Fandiño
Microwave photonics (MWP) is a well-established research field that investigates the use of photonic technologies to generate, distribute, process and analyze RF waveforms in the optical domain. Despite its great potential to solve long-standing problems faced by both the microwave and electronics industries, MWP systems are bulky, expensive and consume a lot of power. Integrated microwave photonics (IMWP) is an emerging area of research that promises to alleviate most of these drawbacks through the use of photonic integrated circuits (PIC).
In this work, we have aimed at further closing the gap between the worlds of MWP and integrated optics. In particular, we have focused on the design and experimental characterization of PICs with reconfigurable, ring-assisted Mach-Zehnder interferometer filters (RAMZI), and demonstrated its potential use in different IMWP applications. These filters consist of a symmetric MZI loaded with ring resonators, which are coupled to the MZI branches by different optical couplers.
The contributions of this thesis can be split into two sections. In the first one, we demonstrate integrated optical couplers and reflectors with variable power splitting and reflections ratios. These exploit the well-known properties of tapered multimode interference couplers (MMI), and their inherent robustness makes them highly suitable for the implementation of both RAMZI and reflective filters. Besides, we study in detail the impact of manufacturing deviations in the performance of a 4x4 MMI-based 90◦ hybrid, which is a fundamental building block in coherent optical communication systems.
In the second section, we demonstrate the use of integrated RAMZI filters for three different IMWP applications, including instantaneous frequency measurement (IFM), direct detection of frequency-modulated signals in a MWP link, as well as in tunable, coherent MWP filters. A theoretical analysis of the limits and trade-offs that exist in photonics-based IFM systems is also provided. Even though these are early proof-of-concept experiments, we hope that further technological developments in the field will finally turn MWP into a commercial reality.