OSA's Digital Library

Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: Michael Duncan
  • Vol. 13, Iss. 25 — Dec. 12, 2005
  • pp: 10272–10284
« Show journal navigation

Nano photonic and ultra fast all-optical processing modules

Zeev Zalevsky, Arkady Rudnitsky, and Menachem Nathan  »View Author Affiliations

Optics Express, Vol. 13, Issue 25, pp. 10272-10284 (2005)

View Full Text Article

Acrobat PDF (725 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



In this paper we present an all-optical approach allowing the realization of logic gates and other building blocks of a processing unit. The modules have dimensions of only few microns, operation rate of tens of Tera Hertz, low power consumption and high energetic efficiency. The operation principle is based upon construction of unconventional wave guiding nano-photonic structures which do not include non-linear materials or interactions. The devices developed and presented in this paper include logic diffractive phase detector, generalized diffractive phase detector, logic gates as AND, OR and NOT, amplitude modulator and analog adder/ subtractor.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

1. Introduction

There is a recognized need for all-optical data processing done by devices with very small response times, consumption of relatively low light intensity and small dimensions. The existing approaches for realizing all-optical interactions are mainly based upon non-linear optics. The main disadvantage of these approaches is that strong optical power is required in order to obtain a non-linear interaction. In addition, since the non-linear coefficient is usually rather small, long interaction lengths are used. Another disadvantage is that non-linear materials are rather expensive and do not fit easily into integrated optical circuits and chips [1–5

1 . T. Yabu , M. Geshiro , T. Kitamura , K. Nishida , and S. Sawa , “ All-optical logic gates containing a two-mode non-linear waveguide ,” IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 38 , 37 – 46 ( 2002 ). [CrossRef]

]. On the other hand the advantage of non-linear optics approach is that it allows using the amplitude modulation format. Thus it is possible to perform logic functions between two signals of different wavelength and due to the non-linear interaction the relative phase difference is not important, only the synchronization between the pulses trains is relevant (which is far more tolerant to deviations).

Another recently introduced interesting approach, which demonstrates the operation of basic all-optical devices, is based on multi mode interference (MMI) [6

6 . A. Gupta , K. Tsutsumi , and J. Nakayama , “ Synthesis of Hadamard transformers by use of multimode interference optical waveguides ,” Appl. Opt. 42 , 2730 – 2738 ( 2003 ). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. Although this approach is modular and simpler for optical integration, it is still not complete enough to cope with the large variety of building blocks required in order to realize an all-optical processor. Its additional disadvantage is that the demonstrated devices are still large and thus cannot be used for the realization of VLSI (Very Large Scale of Integration) all-optical circuits [7–10

7 . S. Y. Lee , S. Darmawan , C. W. Lee , and M. K. Chin , “ Transformation between directional couplers and multi-mode interferometers based on ridge waveguides ,” Opt. Express , 12 , 3079 – 3084 ( 2004 ). http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-12-14-3079 [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. Note that having a larger device means slower operation speed since the light requires a longer time to travel through the device. Thus the MMI approach leads to slower modules as well.

A new approach suggested by the present authors [11

11 . Z. Zalevsky , A. Rudnitsky , and M. Nathan , “ All-optical devices and methods for data processing ,” Israel Patent Application # 166810 , Feb. 2005 . [PubMed]

] solves the above-mentioned problems by providing a full set of all-optical data processing modules that may be joined to build an all-optical processor. The suggested approach utilizes light propagation through a linear-medium. The operation principle involves MMI and conversion done in specially constructed waveguides and metallic coating inserted inside the interference regions. The modules have very small dimensions (only a few cubic micrometers for a logic AND/OR gate). Consequently, an all-optical processor may be similar in dimensions to an electronic VLSI circuit. Furthermore, the operation rates may approach a few tens of THz, being more than four orders of magnitude faster than electronic VLSI circuits. The technology used to make these modules is simple and inexpensive, using existing E-beam lithography and electro plating instrumentation. The devices presented in this paper facilitate the realization of various logic functions that may be used in a fast RAM module, a femto-second pulse generator, a light amplitude/phase modulator, triggers, encoder/decoder, an optical switch, an analog/digital or digital/analog converter, and in other data processing components.

In section 2, we present the theory and the numerical model of these new devices and their principle of operation. In section 3, we describe numerical simulations of various all-optical elements. In section 4, we present initial experimental results and in section 5, we conclude the paper.

2. Theory and modeling

2.1 General description

The idea behind the present approach is associated with the following [11

11 . Z. Zalevsky , A. Rudnitsky , and M. Nathan , “ All-optical devices and methods for data processing ,” Israel Patent Application # 166810 , Feb. 2005 . [PubMed]

]: When two or more light beams of the same wavelength propagate in free space (linear medium propagation), an interaction between the beams takes place at a point (region) of intersection between the light fields of the beams. This results in interference, namely the summation of the light fields (which is a linear function of the input field) at the point of intersection. The beams then continue their propagation along respective axes with unaffected input field properties as if there was no interaction. According to the conventional approaches, in order to achieve an interaction between the beams that will affect the beams or their propagation properties, the beam interaction must occur in a non-linear medium.

The technique described in this paper provides appropriate light coupling into and out of a waveguide (made from materials that do not exhibit optical non-linear effects), to thereby obtain at the output a desired phase or phase modulation, and/or to obtain at the output a desired amplitude modulation of the input field using reference light beams. This operational principle is based on the provision that a non-uniform spatial energy distribution of a light field is resulting from interaction between the light components propagating in a waveguide, although the waveguide medium itself is linear and the diffraction effect is a linear effect. Such non-uniformity of the light field is created due to the total internal reflection of light at the edges (walls) of the waveguide. This desired reflection is obtained by proper metallic coating of the walls of the interaction regions using the electro plating procedure. In materials having high refraction index (as Silicon) the required internal reflection can be obtained even without the need for special metallic coating.

The spatial non-uniformity is translated into temporal modulation of the input light field, for example following the phase relations between the input beam and the reference beam. Thus, the basic device is actually an optical waveguide structure configured to define one or more optical waveguide units, each waveguide unit having a linear-medium interaction zone for light components created by multiple reflections of input light in the waveguide, and input and output aperture arrangements. Note that since the suggested modules operate due to interference they must be operated using the same light source.

2.2 Numerical modeling

The wave equation for a two dimensional waveguide in the y-z plane may be written as:


where E is the electrical field, μ. is the relative permeability, μ0 is the permeability constant, ε is the relative dielectric constant and ε0 is the dielectric constant. ω is the radial frequency of light.

This differential equation can be solved by finding eigen values and functions, which represent the basic possible multi modes:


where βm2 are the eigen values, Am are the coefficients of the different modes and Em(y) is the field profile dependence of the mth mode along the y direction. The numerical solution for Eq.1 can be obtained by the following approximations:


where Eij, ∆y and ∆z can be seen in Fig. 1. In order to solve numerically these equations we need to assume the following boundary conditions:



where N is an integer number, ν opt the optical frequency and λ the optical wavelength.

Fig. 1. Numerical model for simulations.

We use this numerical model in order to solve the interference patterns obtained at the output of the designed structures.

3. Simulations and operation principle

3.1 Diffractive phase detector

The diffractive phase detector (DPD) is depicted in Fig. 2 This device provides a comparison between two input beams. The schematic sketch of the device is seen in Fig. 2(a). Numerical simulations are presented in Figs. 2(b) and 2(c). An input beam A should have phases of either 0 or π and an input beam B should have phases of +π/2 or -π/2. An input having binary phase modulation of 0 and π can produce this input phase distribution if a phase shift element of -π/2 is connected in front of input B. Thus in our treatment we may assume that both inputs have binary phase modulation of 0 and π. Having the equal phase distribution in both inputs produces an energy maximum at the left output facet [Fig. 2(b)]. When the phase relation is opposite, the maximal energy is obtained at the right output facet [Fig. 2(c)]. We will denote the left output as Outleft and the right one as Outright. Table 1 describes the four possibilities of the input phase combinations and their corresponding output. As one may see at each one of the outputs there are three possibilities. The amplitude can be zero or if it is not zero then the phases of the output corresponds to the phases of one of the inputs.

Table 1. The output of the Diffractive Phase Detector for the four possibilities of input combinations.

View This Table
| View All Tables

In our case φ0=0 and φ1=π. Since there are three output states instead of two, this is not yet a logic function but this building block is essential for the construction of such a function as shown below.

Fig. 2. A comparison between the phases of two input beams in a DPD. (a) Schematic device structure. (b) – (c) Numerical simulations.

Note that the DPD can be used as an analog adder/ subtractor as well. For this module the two inputs should not have different phases but rather different amplitudes IA and IB and the obtained output will be (IA+IB)/2 and (IA-IB)/2 on the left and the right output facets respectively.

Also note that when we talk about phases we are referring to the relative and not the absolute phase. Since all devices are operated by the same light source, indeed, only the relative phase is becoming relevant and interference can take place.

The DPD has some similarity to the Hadamard transform known from the quantum communication [6

6 . A. Gupta , K. Tsutsumi , and J. Nakayama , “ Synthesis of Hadamard transformers by use of multimode interference optical waveguides ,” Appl. Opt. 42 , 2730 – 2738 ( 2003 ). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. The definition of this transform is:


where the matrix above is the Hadamard matrix, and Σ=A+B, ∆=A-B.

3.2 Generalized diffractive phase detector

This device is schematically described in Fig. 3(a). The left and the right inputs are fixed reference beams while the central input is the information channel (time modulated optical flow of the input). The device operates for the three input possibilities of the central input channel: (i) its phase equals to the phase of the two reference beams, (ii) its phase is opposed to the phase of the reference beams and (iii) the input (information channel) is absent (its amplitude is zero). For case (i) the output energy is 1.5 times larger than for cases (ii) and (iii). This device can be connected to the output of the DPD, thereby converting its three output possibilities into only two. The device structure is seen in Fig. 3(b) and the numerical simulations of the obtained light distribution for the three possibilities of the input channel are seen in Figs. 3(c)–3(e).

Fig. 3. Generalized DPD. (a). Schematic device structure. (b). Actual device structure. (c). Information beam is absent. (d). Information beam has phase that is equal to the reference beam (output amplitude is 1.5 times larger). (e). Information beam has phase that is opposite to the reference beam.

A summary of the various possibilities of the Generalized DPD module can be seen in Table 2.

Note that the reference beam added to this module is coming from the same light source as the information input channels and thus interference can take place. The relative phases′ adjustment is done by proper numerical and experimental design of the lengths and shape of the wave guiding channels.

Table 2. The output of the Generalized DPD for the three possibilities of input channel combinations.

View This Table
| View All Tables

3.3 Logic and/or gate

Applying subtraction operation to this output may convert the output to zero and one in amplitude (zero for three phase combinations of the input channels and 1 for the fourth one) or the same subtractor can be used for conversion of the amplitude modulated beam into a phase modulation with amplitude of 0.25 and phase of zero or π. Figure 4(b) shows the complete module. The results of the numerical simulations can be seen in Figs. 4(c)–4(f) where the output distribution is presented for the four possibilities of the input phase modulation. In this simulation the last stage subtractor was chosen such that logic one is obtained only in the left output facet of Fig. 4(d). For the other three combinations the left output facet has zero energy [Figs. 4(c), 4(e) and 4(f)].

Fig. 4. Logic AND/OR gate. (a). Schematic sketch. (b). Device structure. (c) – (f). The four possible combinations for the input/ output of the device. Note that indeed only in (d). The output in the left output facet is not zero. (g). Graphical description of the operation concept of the logical gate.

In the simulation of Fig. 4 we have presented a logic gate with amplitude modulation in its output. Indeed as we mentioned before in order to cascade several modules it is important to keep the same modulation format which is a phase format in our case. However, we presented an amplitude modulation since it is much better visualized. In any case the purpose of the third module that was to shift the output of the second module from being 1 and 1.5 to be -0.25 and 0.25 (phase modulation format), was demonstrated also for a different shift to 0 and 0.5 (for the output channel).

3.4 Logic NOT gate for amplitude modulated beams

Two variations for the logic NOT gate are demonstrated and simulated in Fig. 5. Figure 5(a) presents the schematic sketch of the device. The middle waveguide unit is a typical optical waveguide used as the reference according to which the NOT operation is performed. The phase of light propagating through such a waveguide unit is not affected. The left and right waveguide units are configured according to two examples of the phase inversion used to provide a change of phase of the input light at the output. This phase inversion can be achieved by passing the input light through a region of the waveguide that has a different refraction index, width or length. As a result, the phase inversion occurs at the output (as seen in the right waveguide where the phase inversion occurs due to width variation). The left waveguide unit is configured generally similar to the middle reference unit but it has a core region of refraction index that is different than what is used in the reference central wave guiding channel. Figure 5(b) presents the numerical simulations of the device of Fig. 5(a). Its central channel is the reference beam in comparison to which we wish to invert the phase. In the left output channel we inverted the phase by changing the refraction index of that channel and in the right channel the phase inversion was obtained due to diffraction (via width variations).

Fig. 5. Logic NOT gate. a). Schematic sketch. b). Numerical simulation of the device.

3.5 Amplitude modulator

An amplitude modulator may be realized using the DPD. If a reference beam is connected to one of the inputs of the DPD [Fig. 2(a)], the amplitude of the left output is maximal for opposite phases of reference and information beams and the amplitude of the right output is maximal when the reference and the information beams are in phase. Thus, the right output channel is an amplitude modulated beam and the left output is an inverted amplitude modulated beam.

3.6 Analog adder/subtractor

This module is constructed out of three waveguides that are combined into a wider interaction region, in which the output channel has the width equal to that of the input waveguides [see Fig. 6(a)]. The central input is denoted by A and the other two outer inputs by B. If the phase of A plus π/2 equals to the phase of B then the obtained output C equals to A+B. If the phase of A plus π/2 is opposed to the phase of B, then the output C equals to A-B. To realize this operation one also needs |A|>|B|. Figures 6(b) and 6(c) present simulation results of this device. In Fig. 6(b) one may see the case where the output equals to A+B while in Fig. 6(c) one obtains A-B (for the case of A=B).

Fig. 6. Analog adder/subtractor. (a). Schematic sketch. (b).-(c). Numerical simulation.

3.7 Logic NOT gate for amplitude modulated beams

The NOT element is capable of producing output beam when the input beam is not input into the device. Figure 6 presents the element which includes three input ports and one output port. The information is input in the middle input port while in the two external input ports reference beam is inserted. In this configuration, the simulation results shown in Fig. 6 represent exactly a logic NOT gate (previously presented in Fig. 5).

3.8 Tolerances and system configuration

The devices described in this paper are based upon interference. Thus, there should be sensitivity to the wavelength. In this subsection we wish to show that such sensitivity does not interfere with the fact that the operation rate is tens of THz which means a wideband signal. In Fig. 7 we explore the sensitivity of the DPD module. Figure 7(a) presents the field distribution obtained when the operation wavelength was equal to the wavelength for which the device was designed. In Fig. 7(b) the same device was tested with wavelength which is 0.67 of the design wavelength (deviation of approximately 30%). For both cases identical field distribution was obtained. Since the preferred operation wavelength is λ=0.85μm (frequency of 3.5E14) deviation of 30% leads to possible bandwidth of more than several tens of THz which is compatible with our assumption for the required operation rates.

Fig. 7. Tolerance to temporal bandwidth. (a). The correct wavelength. (b). Deviation of approximately 30% from the correct wavelength.

Fig. 8. Schematic sketch of Boolean logic processing unit.

4. Experimental investigation

Figure 9 depicts some initial experimental results performed in a water bath in which the optical waves were replaced by water waves having similar propagation equations. The reason for this type of experiment is that water fulfills the same wave equation as light waves, but the wavelength is much larger and thus the construction of the device is significantly simpler. Note that if the water is shallow enough the non-linear effects are negligible and the obtained results may be considered to reliably represent the results anticipated in an optical waveguide. For the experiment, we constructed a module which is similar to the DPD but with a single central output. Special eccentric ellipses were designed and fabricated. The ellipses were connected to pedals such that when rotated by a motor the pedals were pressed and perfect sinusoidal water waves were generated in the bath. Placing the ellipses in different relative angles allowed control of the relative phases of the generated water waves.

The module was constructed by building the proper water interaction region inside the bath. In-phase or out of phase input waves were generated by aligning the relative angle of the ellipses. The wavelength of the water waves was 4cm. In the upper part of Fig. 9, one may see the picture of the experimental setup. In the lower part one may see the comparison between the numerically anticipated results and the obtained distribution. Matching can be seen not only in the wave distribution but also in the number of wave cycles until the proper interaction is obtained. The results of the water experiment matched nicely the optical simulation, with the optical wavelength replaced (and thus scaled up) with the 4cm water waves wavelength.

The matching between the experiment and the numerical simulation presented at the bottom of Fig. 9 is for two inputs having equal phases. The lower right part of Fig. 9 depicts the experimentally obtained water wave interference. The lower left part is a zoom view on the interference region of the lower right part, where the waves are focused into a spot. In the lower left part of the figure, one may see the converging spherical wave front before the focus spot and the diverging wave front just after it.

Fig. 9. Experimental results in water bath: Hydro-optical wave interaction.

5. Conclusions

In this paper, we present a novel approach that allows realization of an all-optical processing unit using several all-optical building blocks. The suggested approach has several significant advantages: an operation principle involving interaction within linear media, thus inexpensive for construction and modular for integration; small and compact modules leading to dimensions not much larger than those obtained in electronic VLSI circuitry, fast operation rates of few tens of THz and low power consumption.

The presented building blocks were numerically investigated and tested in preliminary experimental set.

References and links

1 .

T. Yabu , M. Geshiro , T. Kitamura , K. Nishida , and S. Sawa , “ All-optical logic gates containing a two-mode non-linear waveguide ,” IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 38 , 37 – 46 ( 2002 ). [CrossRef]

2 .

M. F. Yanik , S. Fan , M. Soljacic , and J. D. Joannopoulos , “ All-optical transistor action with bistable switching in a photonic crystal cross-waveguide geometry ,” Opt. Lett. 28 , 2506 – 2508 ( 2003 ). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

3 .

L. Brzozowski and E. H. Sargent , “ All-optical analog-to digital converters, hardlimiters, and logic gates ,” J. Lightwave Technol. 19 , 114 – 119 ( 2001 ). [CrossRef]

4 .

M. Pecciantu , C. Conti , G. Assanto , A. D. Luca , and U. Umeton , “ All-optical switching and logic gating with spatial solitons in liquid crystals ,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 81 , 3335 – 3337 ( 2002 ). [CrossRef]

5 .

N. Starodumov , Y. O. Barmenkov , A. Martinez , I. Torres , and L. A. Zenteno , “ Experimental demonstration of a Raman effect based optical transistor ,” Opt. Lett. 23 , 352 – 354 ( 1998 ). [CrossRef]

6 .

A. Gupta , K. Tsutsumi , and J. Nakayama , “ Synthesis of Hadamard transformers by use of multimode interference optical waveguides ,” Appl. Opt. 42 , 2730 – 2738 ( 2003 ). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

7 .

S. Y. Lee , S. Darmawan , C. W. Lee , and M. K. Chin , “ Transformation between directional couplers and multi-mode interferometers based on ridge waveguides ,” Opt. Express , 12 , 3079 – 3084 ( 2004 ). http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-12-14-3079 [CrossRef] [PubMed]

8 .

S. Nagai , G. Morishima , H. Inayoshi , and K. Utaka , “ Multimode interference photonic switches ,” J. Lightwave Technol. 20 , 675 – 681 ( 2002 ). [CrossRef]

9 .

A. Irace and G. Breglio , “ All-silicon optical temperature sensor based on Multi-Mode Interference ,” Opt. Express 11 , 2807 – 2812 ( 2003 ). http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-11-22-2807 [CrossRef] [PubMed]

10 .

B. J. Li , S. J. Chua , E. A. Fitzgerald , B. S. Chaudhari , S. Jiang , and Z. Cai , “ Intelligent integration of optical power splitter with optically switchable cross-connect based on multimode interference principle in SiGe/Si ,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 85 , 1119 – 1121 ( 2004 ). [CrossRef]

11 .

Z. Zalevsky , A. Rudnitsky , and M. Nathan , “ All-optical devices and methods for data processing ,” Israel Patent Application # 166810 , Feb. 2005 . [PubMed]

OCIS Codes
(200.4660) Optics in computing : Optical logic
(200.4740) Optics in computing : Optical processing
(230.1150) Optical devices : All-optical devices

ToC Category:
Research Papers

Zeev Zalevsky, Arkady Rudnitsky, and Menachem Nathan, "Nano photonic and ultra fast all-optical processing modules," Opt. Express 13, 10272-10284 (2005)

Sort:  Journal  |  Reset  


  1. T. Yabu, M. Geshiro, T. Kitamura, K. Nishida, and S. Sawa, "All-optical logic gates containing a two-mode non-linear waveguide," IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 38, 37-46 (2002). [CrossRef]
  2. M. F. Yanik, S. Fan, M. Soljacic, and J. D. Joannopoulos, "All-optical transistor action with bistable switching in a photonic crystal cross-waveguide geometry," Opt. Lett. 28, 2506-2508 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  3. L. Brzozowski and E. H. Sargent, "All-optical analog-to digital converters, hardlimiters, and logic gates," J. Lightwave Technol. 19, 114-119 (2001). [CrossRef]
  4. M. Pecciantu, C. Conti, G. Assanto, A. D. Luca, and U. Umeton, "All-optical switching and logic gating with spatial solitons in liquid crystals," Appl. Phys. Lett. 81, 3335-3337 (2002). [CrossRef]
  5. N. Starodumov, Y. O. Barmenkov, A. Martinez, I. Torres, and L. A. Zenteno, "Experimental demonstration of a Raman effect based optical transistor," Opt. Lett. 23, 352-354 (1998). [CrossRef]
  6. A. Gupta, K. Tsutsumi, and J. Nakayama, "Synthesis of Hadamard transformers by use of multimode interference optical waveguides," Appl. Opt. 42, 2730-2738 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  7. S. Y. Lee, S. Darmawan, C. W. Lee, and M. K. Chin, "Transformation between directional couplers and multimode interferometers based on ridge waveguides," Opt. Express 12, 3079-3084 (2004), <a href="http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-12-14-3079">http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-12-14-3079</a>. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  8. S. Nagai, G. Morishima, H. Inayoshi, and K. Utaka, "Multimode interference photonic switches," J. Lightwave Technol. 20, 675-681 (2002). [CrossRef]
  9. A. Irace and G. Breglio, "All-silicon optical temperature sensor based on Multi-Mode Interference," Opt. Express 11, 2807-2812 (2003), <a href="http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-11-22-2807">http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-11-22-2807,?a>. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  10. B. J. Li, S. J. Chua, E. A. Fitzgerald, B. S. Chaudhari, S. Jiang, and Z. Cai, "Intelligent integration of optical power splitter with optically switchable cross-connect based on multimode interference principle in SiGe/Si," Appl. Phys. Lett. 85, 1119-1121 (2004). [CrossRef]
  11. Z. Zalevsky, A. Rudnitsky, and M. Nathan, "All-optical devices and methods for data processing," Israel Patent Application # 166810, Feb. 2005. [PubMed]

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited