In interconnection systems it is desirable first that the optical signals remain optical from source to sink while traversing the switching nodes and, second, that routing is not performed by an electronic overlay network but by self-routing of the optical signal through the switching nodes. Self-routing was demonstrated in combination with optically controlled1,2 and with electrically controlled switching.3,4 Both methods have in common that each data packet is preceded by a packet header or routing tag, which carries the destination information and provides the routing. In electronically controlled switching the packet header of the optical data packet is detected directly at the switching element and electronic processing (strongly localized and therefore fast) of the header information is used to set the switching element into the desired configuration. For the packet payload the switch remains optically transparent. In a switching node, cascading of several such switching elements is required. This paper reports on what we believe to be the first experiments with cascaded self-routing (electronically-controlled) switching elements (called self-routing modules in the following) and on the first bit error rate (BER) measurements involving these self-routing modules.

© 1992 Optical Society of America

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