Wireline and Optical Circuits

The research on Wireline and Optical circuits at MICAS is pushed by the never-ending need for energy efficiency, higher speeds, and lower latency. But at the same time, MICAS also explores innovative communication concepts such as full-silicon optical solutions enabling 1310/1550 nm communication and polymer microwave fibers (PMF).

Optical interaction is highly challenging in silicon. The high doping concentrations and low supply voltages of CMOS result in small and slow responses of photodiodes. Moreover, 1310/1550 nm light is not absorbed due to the high bandgap. However, the trend towards higher integration levels can also be seen in this challenging domain thanks to innovative circuit techniques combined with novel conversion mechanisms between the optical and electrical domains. MICAS has been a trendsetter in this domain for many years.

Also, with respect to polymer microwave fibers, MICAS stays in the leading position by pushing the boundaries in terms of data rate and distance. Not only is the research investigating Silicon integrated frontends for PMF but also couplers, duplexers and fibers are being investigated to obtain the optimal solution for a wide range of connectivity applications.


Research challenges

Polymer microwave fiber communication systems

MICAS has developed several generations PMF demonstrators. These demonstrators show the benefits and limitation of PMF compared to copper wireline and optical communication systems. Both long-reach (~10m) and short reach (10cm) solutions are being investigated, designed, fabricated and measured.

Optical receivers

MICAS has pioneered fully integrated optical receivers for many years. Starting with integrated pn-photodiodes optimized for speed and responsivity, we are now investigating using Schottky photodiodes to detect longer wavelengths typically used in optical communication links. We are investigating how to increase the sensitivity and speed while reducing the power consumption of such receivers. Also, we are exploring using this concept for other applications beyond data communication.

Current research topics

High-Speed Dielectric Waveguide Communication Links
RF, mm-wave and THz circuits, Wireline and Optical Circuits
Kristof Dens | Patrick Reynaert
J-band Communication Circuits in 16nm FinFET
RF, mm-wave and THz circuits, Wireline and Optical Circuits
Berke Güngör | Patrick Reynaert
High-Speed Communication Circuits at mm-Wave and THz Frequencies
RF, mm-wave and THz circuits, Wireline and Optical Circuits
Patrick Reynaert
Sub-bandgap light detection in bulk CMOS
Wireline and Optical Circuits
Filip Tavernier

Top publications

  1. K. Dens, J. Vaes, S. Ooms, M. Wagner and P. Reynaert, "A PAM4 Dielectric Waveguide Link in 28 nm CMOS," ESSCIRC 2021 - IEEE 47th European Solid State Circuits Conference (ESSCIRC), 2021, pp. 479-482, doi: 10.1109/ESSCIRC53450.2021.9567741.
  2. M. De Wit, S. Ooms, B. Philippe, Y. Zhang and P. Reynaert, "Polymer Microwave Fibers: A New Approach That Blends Wireline, Optical, and Wireless Communication," in IEEE Microwave Magazine, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 51-66, Jan. 2020, doi: 10.1109/MMM.2019.2945158.
  3. P. Reynaert et al., "Polymer Microwave Fibers: A blend of RF, copper and optical communication," ESSCIRC Conference 2016: 42nd European Solid-State Circuits Conference, 2016, pp. 15-20, doi: 10.1109/ESSCIRC.2016.7598233.
  4. W. Volkaerts, N. Van Thienen and P. Reynaert, "10.2 An FSK plastic waveguide communication link in 40nm CMOS," 2015 IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference - (ISSCC) Digest of Technical Papers, 2015, pp. 1-3, doi: 10.1109/ISSCC.2015.7062984.
  5. F. Tavernier and M. Steyaert, “High-Speed Optical Receivers With Integrated Photodiode in 130 nm CMOS,” IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, vol. 44, no. 10, pp. 2856-2867, 2009
  6. W. Diels et al., “Schottky Photodiodes in Bulk CMOS for High-Speed 1310/1550 nm Optical Receivers,” IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics, vol. 24, no. 6, pp. 1-8, 2018
  7. W. Diels et al., “1310/1550 nm Optical Receivers With Schottky Photodiode in Bulk CMOS,” IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, vol. 55, no. 7, pp. 1776-1784, 2020
  8. W. Diels et al., “Advanced Design of Schottky Photodiodes in Bulk CMOS for High Speed Optical Receivers,” IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics, vol. 56, no. 1, pp. 1-8, 2020
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