Low-voltage and compact GaAs Mach-Zehnder modulator arrays with built-in linearization capability

BEACON will develop novel dense electro-optic modulator arrays focusing on achieving high frequency operation up to 35 GHz and capability for linear operation with >75dB spurious free dynamic range in order to satisfy demanding aerospace and defense RF photonic applications.

The design and development will focus on fabrication of modulators using 6-inch wafer sizes for making the modulator technology highly-manufacturable and cost-effective. Most of the fabrication tools required to fabricate the modulators will exploit standard 6-inch foundry fabrication facility that - unlike typical 2-inch or 3-inch III-V photonic device fabrication tools - are automated to take cassettes of wafers and to give very high quality and very repeatable fabrication processes. Such facilities run thousands of wafers per year and as such modulators can be fabricated with excellent high volume manufacturing discipline, high yield and cost-effectiveness.

BEACON will leverage the GaAs modulator economics and R&D investment and demonstrate the fabrication of a Dual Polarization (DP) QPSK modulator that can be used as the basic building block in coherent inter-satellite and satellite-to-ground links. The GaAs MZMs will be integrated in nested arrangement to realize two parallel IQ modulators. The IQ modulators will be combined through a polarization rotator and polarization combiner that will be part of the GaAs chip.