High-Speed Dielectric Waveguide Communication Links

Kristof Dens , Patrick Reynaert RF, mm-wave and THz circuits Wireline and Optical Circuits

Dielectric waveguide interconnects show great potential for high-speed communication at distances up to a few meters, due to the high bandwidth that is intrinsically available at mm-wave frequencies. However, existing links have fallen short of reaching their full data rate at distances higher than a meter, mainly because of the detrimental effect of dispersion within the fiber. In addition, while first-generation dielectric waveguide links were able to use simple, binary modulation schemes such as On-Off Keying, this is no longer sufficient to meet the increasing demands of today’s systems.

A CMOS ASK transceiver has been developed and optimized for the targeted fiber. The circuits were designed for high bandwidth and high power/low loss, allowing for high data rate and large communication range. Enhanced linearity of the transceiver enables the use of modulation schemes with a higher spectral efficiency such as 4-ASK. In addition, application of equalization techniques such as FFE (Feed-forward Equalization) or a non-linear Volterra equalizer, can drastically increase the maximum data rate achievable over the link. Finally, the use of advanced error-correcting codes relaxes the SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio) requirements for a given Bit Error Rate by several dB, at negligible coding overhead. This, in turn, leads to an increased communication range. In this way, 50 Gb/s was achieved over fibers up to 3 meters.

A more advanced iteration of the transceiver targets 100 Gb/s communication over up to 7 meters. By using a multi-band architecture, the dispersion requirements of the waveguide are relaxed. Improved linearity of the circuits allows multi-level amplitude modulation in each band, making the link compatible with modern Ethernet standards. Non-coherent linear detection obviates the need for a power-hungry PLL and greatly simplifies the design. 

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Kristof Dens
Phd student
Patrick Reynaert
Academic staff

Publications about this research topic

Dens Kristof, Vaes Joren, Ooms Simon, Wagner Martin, Reynaert Patrick, "A PAM4 Dielectric Waveguide Link in 28 nm CMOS", in Proceedings of ESSCIRC 2021 - IEEE 47TH EUROPEAN SOLID STATE CIRCUITS CONFERENCE (ESSCIRC), 2021, pp. 479 - 482

P. Reynaert et al., "Polymer Microwave Fiber: a New Communication Concept That Blends Wireless, Wireline and Optical Communication," 2019 26th IEEE International Conference on Electronics, Circuits and Systems (ICECS), Genoa, Italy, 2019, pp. 755-758, doi: 10.1109/ICECS46596.2019.8964776.

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