Spectrum and Energy Efficient Silicon Photonic Millimeter-wave Remote Antenna Units for Radio over Fiber Application
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Radio-over-fiber (RoF) distributed antenna systems with frequency agile, energy efficient mm-wave remote antenna units (RAUs) are essential for many applications. They can cover dead zones of indoor wireless communications. They can increase system capacity and throughput, and enhance spectral efficiency for high data rate fifth-generation (5G) cellular communications. Silicon RF photonics and Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) electronics technologies will be explored to implement both spectral- and energy-efficient mm-wave RAUs with small form factors. A successful demonstration of these chip-scale silicon photonics wideband mm-wave RAUs for RoF distributed antenna systems with simultaneous frequency agility and energy efficiency will revolutionize the future of 5G wireless cellular communications and indoor wireless communications (e.g., conference centers, airports, hotels, shopping malls, offices, and homes), and provide further opportunities for the semiconductor industry. Besides the aforementioned technical impacts, the proposed project also promotes outreach activities to increase participation of students from underrepresented groups in science and engineering, including annual one-week summer camps for co-ed and female high school students. The research and educational results of this work will be disseminated to the academic, industrial, and government sectors. This project addresses spectral efficiency as its primary goal and energy efficiency as its secondary goal. This project intends to develop novel chip-scale silicon photonics wideband mm-wave front-end architectures as both spectral and energy efficient RAUs for RoF distributed antenna systems using hybrid Silicon on Insulator (SOI) photonics and CMOS chips, and transmit/receive (TX/RX) full-duplex (FD) antenna units. Frequency agility, interference-resilience and spectral efficiency are achieved by employing reconfigurable silicon RF photonics filters and a FD front-end based on TX/RX antennas and CMOS mm-wave integrated circuits. At the same time, energy efficiency is addressed by the proper choice of silicon photonics technology, RF photonics filter topology, and FD front-end architecture. The proposed research tasks are: 1) architecture definition and performance analysis of a mm-wave silicon photonics-CMOS frequency-agile, energy-efficient RAU, 2) development of novel silicon photonics circuits capable of electrical reconfiguration, and relevant algorithms and hardware to provide frequency agility and energy efficiency, 3) implementation and testing of CMOS prototypes which include the necessary frequency-agile, energy-efficient mm-wave integrated front-end along with the photonics circuit tuning hardware, and 4) hybrid integration of silicon photonics, CMOS chips, and TX/RX antennas and testing of the entire RAU. The emergence of silicon photonics has enabled the potential of realizing integrated RF photonics bandpass and notch filters with strong frequency agility and interference cancellation at mm-wave and low power consumption for a small form factor RAU. This award reflects NSF''s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation''s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.