How Lithium Niobate Modulator Helps in Meeting Telecommunication Needs
Lithium niobate (LiNbO3) modulator can be regarded as a technology platform that is suitable for addressing many issues and can add values to optical networks. The actual strength of the LiNbO3 technology platform is its capability to add value to the network by drifting to advanced levels of optical integration.
A few decades ago, the merging of key enabling technologies started a flourishing electronics industry. Today, a similar convergence of key technologies is pushing and advancing optical communications into a new era. The growing demand for network bandwidth over the last few years has resulted in the advent of wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) technology. The WDM technology is now being deployed in telecommunications networks around the world to address the need for rapid capacity upgrades on key existing telecommunications routes short on available fiber.
Lithium niobate (LiNbO3) modulator can be regarded as a technology platform that can add values to optical networks and is suitable for addressing many issues. By 2026, the global lithium niobate modulator market is estimated to surpass US$36.711 billion by 2026, increasing from US$6.568 billion from 2018.
The Evolution Path in Telecommunication Sector
Currently, many telecommunications applications using lithium niobate modulators are based on certain discrete components for the optical modulators, coupling continuous-wave lasers, transmitter subsystem, and a number of power stabilization parts and laser wavelength. The reasons for this distinct approach lie in the cert of each component imitating the performance of the previous one, low cost, modular flexibility, and short-term availability. In all these applications the modulator component is merely used as a simple encoder of electrical information against an optical carrier.
However, the emerging optical network demands much more than transmission. Globally, service provider select network transmission equipment not only on the basis of capacity but on several other factors such as manageability, scalability, protection, initial deployment cost, route diversity, and granularity. Lithium niobate is the best suitable technology platform for addressing these network issues, rather than simply as a discrete component. The actual strength of the LiNbO3 technology platform is its capability to add value to the network by drifting to advanced levels of optical integration.
Moreover, LiNbO3 has proven suitable for manufacturing of spatial switches, amplitude modulators, phase modulators, dispersion compensation devices, tunable filters, polarization scramblers, and wavelength-selective optical add/drops. Each of these functions have substantial benefits for the all-optical network. The main element to exploiting them is understanding how a higher level of integration applied can be beneficial in the network. There are certain steps to be taken to advance the all-optical network with LiNbO3 modulators.
The first step is to enhance the end-to-end link performance. Integrating either an additional amplitude modulator or a phase modulator with the existing amplitude modulator can improve the transmission distances. These features can help in overcoming the limitations of fiber chromatic dispersion, polarization-mode dispersion, and in gaining tilt in optical amplifiers.
Secondly, switching & routing is a crucial aspect to any network. Integrating spatial switches with amplitude and phase modulators offers flexibility and convenience in an all-optical network. In today’s synchronous optical networking (SONET) and synchronous digital hierarchy (SDH) networks, switching & routing is done by compulsion in the electrical domain. The necessity to demultiplex traffic to lower levels for switching signifies a blockage in the network thru the time taken to manage & accomplish the bandwidth allocation. An all-optical switching is faster and eliminates this blockage. In addition, optical switching benefits from the introduction of tunable filters and tunable lasers. These technologies enable dynamic restructuring of bandwidth in the optical domain. With such flexibility in LiNbO3 technology, the result is simple network-management tool that allows greater bandwidth utilization as well as network availability.
Currently, lithium niobate is the only viable modulation technology to gain benefit from the dynamic wavelength reallocation. A lot more can be achieved in the next ten years if added benefits of LiNbO3 are fully subjugated in the emerging optical layer.
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