2016 Research Highlights, Silicon Photonics Supporting Next-Generation High-Capacity Communication Networks


The researchers have developed a communication network system utilizing optical switches. The system realizes ultra-high capacity, ultra-low power consumption, and ultra-low latency by exchanging optical signals without conversion to electrical signals.

Figure : Silicon Photonics Supporting Next-Generation High-Capacity Communication Networks

New Results

Optical switches serving as the core of the optical network have been developed using the silicon photonics technology of AIST, mounted in a standard rack as the world’s smallest optical switch blade apparatus, and controlled by an intermediate controller (see photographs above). In order to disseminate the developed technologies, an open disaggregation system, as opposed to conventional optical network systems with proprietary specifications, is newly introduced. It is also expected to allow us to promptly add a new function and easily upgrade performance.


Nowadays, network systems based on electronic routers are approaching the capacity limit due to increase in power consumption proportional to information traffic. Conventional optical transmission systems have been a so-called “all-in-one type” in which one manufacturer aggregates all of the functions necessary to configure an optical transmission network. In recent years, in order to quickly respond to rapid changes in network services all over the world, there has been an increased need for an optical network system employing a disaggregated configuration that is divided on a function basis and is capable of promptly adding a function and easily upgrading performance. However, when dealing with various companies’ products in one disaggregated system, there arise problems of incompatibility, and therefore optimum system construction has been difficult.

Future Development

To respond to the rapidly progressing information communication industry, AIST is aiming at the de facto standardization of the developed technologies through continuous announcement of AIST’s activities to the world.


Shu Namiki, Deputy Director, Research Institute   Satoshi Suda, Senior Researcher  
Electronics and Photonics Research Institute

Shu Namiki, Deputy Director, Research Institute (left), Satoshi Suda, Senior Researcher, Optical Network Technologies Group (right)

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