Microcombs for ultrahigh bandwidth optical data transmission and neural networks

M. Tan, X. Xu, B. Corcoran, J. Wu, A. Boes, T. Nguyen, S. Chu, B. Little, R. Morandotti, A. Mitchell, D. J. Moss

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


We report ultrahigh bandwidth applications of Kerr microcombs to optical neural networks and to optical data transmission, at data rates from 44 Terabits/s (Tb/s) to approaching 100 Tb/s. Convolutional neural networks (CNNs) are a powerful category of artificial neural networks that can extract the hierarchical features of raw data to greatly reduce the network complexity and enhance the accuracy for machine learning tasks such as computer vision, speech recognition, playing board games and medical diagnosis [1-7]. Optical neural networks can dramatically accelerate the computing speed to overcome the inherent bandwidth bottleneck of electronics. We use a new and powerful class of micro-comb called soliton crystals that exhibit robust operation and stable generation as well as a high intrinsic efficiency with an extremely low spacing of 48.9 GHz. We demonstrate a universal optical vector convolutional accelerator operating at 11 Tera-OPS/s (TOPS) on 250,000 pixel images for 10 kernels simultaneously — enough for facial image recognition. We use the same hardware to sequentially form a deep optical CNN with ten output neurons, achieving successful recognition of full 10 digits with 900 pixel handwritten digit images. We also report world record high data transmission over standard optical fiber from a single optical source, at 44.2 Terabits/s over the C-band, with a spectral efficiency of 10.4 bits/s/Hz, with a coherent data modulation format of 64 QAM. We achieve error free transmission across 75 km of standard optical fiber in the lab and over a field trial with a metropolitan optical fiber network. Our work demonstrates the ability of optical soliton crystal micro-combs to exceed other approaches in performance for the most demanding practical optical communications applications.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE, Integrated Optics: Design, Devices, Systems and Applications VI
EditorsPavel Cheben, Jiri Ctyroky, Inigo Molina-Fernandez
Place of PublicationBellingham WA USA
PublisherSPIE - International Society for Optical Engineering
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781510643857
ISBN (Print)9781510643840
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventIntegrated Optics: Design, Devices, Systems and Applications VI 2021 - Online, Czech Republic
Duration: 19 Apr 202123 Apr 2021

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


ConferenceIntegrated Optics: Design, Devices, Systems and Applications VI 2021
Country/TerritoryCzech Republic
Internet address


  • Convolutional accelerator
  • Data transmission
  • Microcomb
  • Neuromorphic processor
  • Optical neural networks

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