Abstract

A novel, hardware-compressive architecture for broadband and continuously tunable integrated optical true-time-delay beamformers for phased array antennas is proposed and experimentally demonstrated. The novel idea consists in employing the frequency-periodic response of optical ring resonator (ORR) filters in conjunction with on-chip wavelength division multiplexing (WDM), in order to create multiple signal paths on an individual beamformer channel. This novel idea dramatically reduces the network complexity and, in turn, its footprint on the wafer. This allows the integration of an unprecedented number of delay channels on a single chip, ultimately overcoming the main limitation of integrated optical beamformers, that is, the difficulty to feed antenna arrays with many elements using a single integrated chip. A novel beamformer has been realized based on this technique, using the ultra-low-loss TriPleX waveguide platform with CMOS-compatible fabrication equipment, and its functionality is demonstrated over an instantaneous bandwidth from 2 to 10 GHz. This result, at the best of our knowledge, represents at the same time the record instantaneous bandwidth (8 GHz) for an optical beamformer based on ORR, and the first demonstration of an integrated beamformer where the periodic response of ORRs is exploited to process signals from different antenna elements, simultaneously, using a single delay line.

© 2014 IEEE

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