High-quality microwave sources are required in multiple applications (radar, wireless networks, satellites, etc.). Typically, low-noise microwave oscillators are made by applying frequency multiplication to an electronic source. This requires a cascade of frequency-doubling stages, which strongly reduces the power of the final signal. Recently, different techniques to produce microwave tones via optical means have been proposed. The resulting device is an optoelectronic oscillator (OEO), with many advantages with respect to its electronic counterparts (immunity to EM interference, low weight, compactness, long-distance transport, etc).
In the FET-Open project PHENOMEN, partner UPV designed and demonstrated a novel optomechanical cavity on a silicon chip displaying, for the first time, a localized mechanical mode at frequencies around 4 GHz within a full phononic bandgap and with a large OM coupling rate.
By pumping the cavity with a blue-detuned laser, a high-Q microwave tone at f = 3.874 GHz is created at driving power of the order of 1mW. The noise figure of this OEO becomes as low as -101 dBc/Hz at 100 kHz, which is a remarkable good value for an OEO oscillating at GHz frequencies without any feedback mechanism. In addition, stronger pumping of the cavity enables the generation of multiple harmonics, thus reaching microwave frequencies above 10 GHz. Therefore, with the advantages of extreme compactness and Silicon-technology compatibility, this approach is a very promising candidate to build ultraweight OEOs, highly appropriate for space applications. Notably, the use of photonic technologies in space is one of the main activities of partner DAS.
SIOMO aims at turning a silicon-photonics optoelectronic oscillator based on cavity optomechanics – recently demonstrated in the FET-Open project PHENOMEN by partner UPV – into a genuine economic innovation by addressing its technological transfer to the space sector via partner DAS.
The main objectives of SIOMO are:
- Silicon-chip OEO performance assessment and application requirements
- Validation of the OEO in the DAS SATCOM testbed.
- Benchmarking against competitors and elaboration of a technology transfer and exploitation plan.
In short, the device performance will be assessed to establish the application requirements (OBJ1). Then, we will test the OEO using parameters established for operation in SATCOM environments (OBJ2). This will enable to benchmark this technology against competing devices in the market so that, finally, an industrialization roadmap towards exploitation and commercialization (OBJ3) can be elaborated.
In order to achieve the previous objectives, SIOMO follows a stepwise approach with well-defined intermediate targets. The approach, methodology (Fig. 3) and associated work plan will ensure effective transfer of technologies and know-how generated in FET PHENOMEN by UPV to DAS during the execution the SIOMO project, and will involve the following steps:
System and application-driven specifications
Laboratory experiments in DAS SATCOM testbed
Industrialisation and product roadmap
Commercialisation and business plan
SIOMO web released
The new siomo project website has been successfully launched in July 2020