Ongoing Projects


PICs4ALL: Photonic Integrated Circuits Accessible to Everyone
[January 2016-December 2018]

PCRL participates in the PICs4ALL CSA project, which aims to increase the impact of photonics and enable access to advanced photonic integrated circuit (PIC) technologies for academia, research institutes, SMEs and larger companies. PICs4ALL will establish a European network of Application Support Centres (ASCs) in the field of PIC technology to connect PIC-development infrastructure throughout Europe. The main task of the ASCs is to lower the barrier to Researchers and SMEs for applying advanced PICs, and thus to increase the awareness of the existence of the worldwide unique facility provided by JePPIX (InP and TriPleX PIC design, manufacturing, testing and packaging). PICs4All ASCs actively support users in taking full advantage of the PIC-technology and its deployment in existing and new applications. To achieve its vision the project combines the two targets of an EC supported CSA, i.e. enabling the access to advanced design, fabrication and characterisation facilities, and stimulating the innovation potential of users, especially SMEs, by supplying hands-on support in developing their business cases.

PCRL will serve as one of the eight ASCs in PICs4ALL, serving users mainly from the geographical area of south-eastern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean. As such, PCRL will actively scout opportunities for the use of PICs in new and existing applications, will promote the use of photonics technology platforms, increase the load of the foundries and support interested users with feasibility studies, design, testing and interface to the foundries.


HAMLET: Heterogeneous Advancement and hybrid integration of polymer and tripLEx platform for Integrated Microwave PhoTonics
[December 2015 – November 2018]

PCRL coordinates HAMLET. The new generation of broadband microwave systems in various fields (wireless communications, satellite communications, sensing, medical imaging) and especially the emerging 5G wireless technology, have very high requirements in terms of carrier frequency, bandwidth, dynamic range, size, power consumption, tunability, and immunity to electromagnetic interference. In parallel, when the microwave signals that need to be processed have a very high carrier frequency, the integrated circuits should be able to offer high-bandwidth modulation and detection. The combination of these requirements is very challenging, and the necessary photonic integration technology that could exploit the full potential of MWP technology is still missing. Towards that end, HAMLET aims to develop a powerful photonic integration technology, tailored for the first time to the needs of MWP and that will enable the corresponding discipline to meet the expectations for commercial uptake with the advent of 5G era. HAMLET will rely on the heterogeneous integration of graphene sheets on polymer and PZT layers on low-loss Si3N4/SiO2 platforms, so as to develop very fast graphene based electro-absorption modulators and an extensive optical beam forming network. With this hybrid technology HAMLET will develop transceivers to seamlessly interface the optical fronthaul and radio access at the remote antenna units (RAUs) of 5G base stations.


eNd to End scalable and dynamically reconfigurable oPtical arcHitecture for application-awarE SDN cLoud datacentErs [February 2015 – January 2018]

PCRL is coordinating NEPHELE project, developing a dynamic optical network infrastructure for future scale-out, disaggregated datacenters. NEPHELE’s end-to-end solution extends from the datacenter architecture and optical subsystem design, to the overlaying control plane and application interfaces. NEPHELE builds on the enormous capacity of optical links and leverages hybrid optical switching to attain the ideal combination of high bandwidth at reduced cost and power compared to current datacenter networks.

A fully functional control plane overlay is being developed, comprising a Software-Defined Networking (SDN) controller along with its interfaces. The southbound interface abstracts physical layer infrastructure and allows dynamic hardware-level network reconfigurability. The northbound interface links the SDN controller with the application requirements through an Application Programming Interface. NEPHELE’s innovative control plane merges hardware and software virtualization over the hybrid optical infrastructure and integrates SDN modules and functions for inter-datacenter connectivity, enabling dynamic bandwidth allocation based on the needs of migrating VMs and existing Service Level Agreements for transparent networking among telecom and datacenter operators’ domains.


Optical peRformanCe monitoring enabling dynamic networks using a Holistic cross-layEr, Self-configurable Truly flexible appRoAch
[February 2015 – January 2018]

PCRL participates in the ORCHESTRA project which aims to develop a highly-flexible optical network that can be dynamically reconfigured and optimized. It does this by constantly monitoring impairment information provided by the network’s coherent transceivers that are extended, almost for free, to operate as software defined multi-impairment optical performance monitors (soft-OPM). Information from multiple soft-OPMs can be correlated to infer information for unmonitored or un-established paths, effectively supporting alien wavelengths, and localize QoT problems and failures. The network is viewed as a continuously running process that perceives current conditions, decides, and acts on those conditions. ORCHESTRA‘s advanced cross-layer optimization procedures will be implemented within a new specifically designed library module, called DEPLOY. A new dynamic and hierarchical control and monitoring (C&M) infrastructure will be then created to interconnect the multiple soft-OPMs and the proposed virtual and real C&M entities running the DEPLOY algorithms,  exploiting the reconfigurability capabilities of enhanced tunable transceivers. At the top of the hierarchical infrastructure, a novel OAM Handler prototype will be implemented, as part of the SDN-based ABNO architecture. The proposed C&M infrastructure will be enriched with active-control functionalities, closing the control loop, and enabling the network to be truly dynamic and self-optimized.

PCRL’s role in the project is concerned with the physical layer aspects of ORCHESTRA. Specifically, it will develop a flexible optical transceiver prototype based on discrete commercial components, capable of multiple QAM formats and variable throughputs. PCRL will also develop DSP algorithms for software-defined impairment-monitoring.


PANTHER: PAssive and electro-optic polymer photonics and InP electronics iNtegration for multi-flow Terabit transceivers at edge SDN switcHes and data-centER gateways
[January 2014 – December 2016]

PCRL coordinates PANTHER. Multi-rate, multi-format and multi-reach operation of optical transceivers is important, but it is not enough for next generation terabit products. What is still missing to make these products viable is a solution for the flexible control of this enormous capacity at the optical layer and its distribution among a number of independent optical flows. PANTHER aims to provide this solution and develop multi-rate, multi-format, multi-reach and multi-flow terabit transceivers for edge switches and data-center gateways. To this end, PANTHER combines electro-optic with passive polymers and develops a novel photonic integration platform with unprecedented potential for high-speed modulation and optical functionality on-chip. It also relies on the combination of polymers with InP gain chips and photodiode arrays, and on the use of the InP-DHBT platform for driving circuits based on 3-bit power-DACs and high-speed TIA arrays. Using 3D integration techniques, PANTHER integrates these components in compact system-in-package transceivers capable of operation at rates up to 64 Gbaud, operation with formats up to DP-64-QAM, spectral efficiency up to 10.24 b/s/Hz, capacity using a dual-carrier scheme up to 1.536 Tb/s, and flexibility in the generation and handling of multiple optical flows on-chip. This impressive performance comes with a potential for 55% power consumption reduction and more than 60% cost/bit reduction, taking into account benefits from the material system, the integration concept, the operation at high baud-rates and the possibility for IP traffic offloading. PANTHER incorporates the transceivers in edge switch and data-center gateway architectures and evaluates their performance in lab and real-network settings. Finally, PANTHER develops a thin software layer that controls the operation parameters of the transceivers, pioneering in this way the efforts for extending the SDN hierarchy down to the flexible optical transport.


SPIRIT: Software-defined energy-efficient Photonic transceivers IntRoducing Inteligence and dynamicity in Terabit superchannels for flexible optical networks
[December 2013 – November 2016]

PCRL coordinates SPIRIT. Bandwidth‐hungry end‐user applications are stretching physical layer capacity and dictating the migration towards software-defined flexible architectures. Fully-programmable optical components supporting rate- and format-adaptation are urgently needed. SPIRIT fabricates low-cost, energy-efficient flexible transceivers that are capable of gridless operation and are compatible with both current and future applications. Single- and multi-carrier (OFDM) QAM formats are supported up to a spectral efficiency of 16 bits/s/Hz (DP-256-QAM), for throughputs of up to 1Tbit/s from a single-package transceiver. Interfacing to an external FPGA allows dynamic adjustment of the symbol rate (up to 32GBaud) and modulation format. Novel segmented-electrode InP IQ-MZMs with Vπ≈1V are developed. This allows direct digital drive using mature, high-yield CMOS electronics; SPIRIT therefore benefits from the dominant technology in IC fabrication, constituting a cost-effective, ultra-low-power solution. On‐chip, 5-bit multi-level functionality enables arbitrary optical waveform generation and transmitter-side DSP. Record-low power consumption (1.8W per MZM arm) for a device of this resolution is targeted. Compared to current transmitters, more than 50% power consumption reduction is expected for 400G and 1T applications. The CMOS electronics and InP photonics are integrated on a SOI platform, including coherent receivers and a novel, flexible MUX/DEMUX based on micro-ring filters, enabling spectrally efficient aggregation/segmentation of superchannels. The latter will be tunable across the entire C-band for truly gridless operation and fine-granularity spectrum slicing.SPIRIT will introduce intelligence in the optical layer. It envisages development of a software-defined network emulation platform that includes DSP performance monitoring for QoS management at the physical layer. Participation by industry leaders ensures a clear commercial exploitation path


ACTPHAST: Access Center for Photonics Innovation Solutions and Technology Support
[November 2013 – October 2017]

ACTPHAST is a unique “one-stop-shop” European access centre for photonics innovation solutions and technology support. ACTPHAST will support and accelerate the innovation capacity of European SMEs by providing them with direct access to the expertise and state-of-the-art facilities of Europe’s leading photonics research centres, enabling companies to exploit the tremendous commercial potential of applied photonics. Technologies available within the consortium range from fibre optics and micro optics, to highly integrated photonic platforms, with capabilities extending from design through to full system prototyping. ACTPHAST has been geographically configured to ensure all of Europe’s SMEs can avail of timely, cost-effective, and investment-free photonics innovation support, and that the extensive range of capabilities within the consortium will impact across a wide range of industrial sectors, from communications to consumer-related products, biotechnology to medical devices. The access of SMEs to ACTPHAST capabilities will be realised through focused innovation projects executed in relatively short timeframes with a critical mass of suitably qualified companies with high potential product concepts. Furthermore, through its extensive outreach activities, the programme will ensure there is an increased level of awareness and understanding across European industries of the technological and commercial potential of photonics.

PCRL participates in ACTPHAST in a three-fold manner: (i) as technology provider in photonics telecom and datacom domains; (ii) one appointed member (Prof. Avramopoulos) in the Technical Coordination Team (TCT) of ACTPHAST and (iii) formal representative of ACTPHAST’s outreach activities in the area of Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Malta.


BIOFOS: Micro-ring resonator-based biophotonic system for food analysis
[November 2013 – October 2016]

PCRL is coordinating BIOFOS. Current methodologies for detection of food contamination based on heavy analytical tools cannot guarantee a safe and stable food supply. The reasons are the complexity, the long time-to-result (2-3 days) and the cost of these tools, which limit the number of samples that can be practically analyzed at food processing and storage sites. The need for screening tools that will be still reliable but simple, fast, low-cost, sensitive and portable for in-situ application is thus urgent. BIOFOS aims to address this need through a high-added value, reusable biosensor system based on optical interference and lab-on-a-chip (LoC) technology. To do this, BIOFOS combines the most promising concepts from the photonic, biological, nanochemical and fluidic parts of LoC systems, aiming to overcome limitations related to sensitivity, specificity, reliability, compactness and cost issues. BIOFOS relies on the ultra-low loss TriPleX photonic platform in order to integrate on a 4×5 mm2 chip 8 micro-ring resonators, a VCSEL and 16 Si photodiodes, and achieve a record detection limit in the change of the refractive index of 5•10-8 RIU. To support reusability and high specificity, it relies on aptamers as biotransducers, targeting at chips for 30 uses. Advanced surface functionalization techniques are used for the immobilization of aptamers, and new microfluidic structures are introduced for the sample pre-treatment and the regeneration process. BIOFOS assembles the parts in a 5x10x10 cm3 package for a sample-in-result-out, multi-analyte biosensor. The system is validated in real settings against antibiotics, mycotoxins, pesticides and copper in milk, olive oil and nuts, aiming at detection below the legislation

limits and time-to-result only 5 minutes. Based on the reusability concept, BIOFOS also aims at reducing the cost per analysis by at least a factor of 10 in the short- and 30 in the mid-term, paving the way for the commercial success of the technology.


MIRAGE: MultI-coRe, multi-level, WDM-enAbled embedded optical enGine for TErabit board-to-board and rack-to-rack parallel optics
[October 2012 – May 2016]

PCRL coordinates MIRAGE, which aims to implement cost-optimized components for terabit optical interconnects introducing new multiplexing concepts through the development of a flexible, future-proof 3D “optical engine”.

MIRAGE is a 3-year collaborative project on photonic integration that brings together seven leading European universities, research centers and companies. The project was launched in October 2012 and is co-funded by the European Commission through the Seventh Framework Programme (FP 7).

The Internet is changing: it is rapidly reshaping into a content-centric network, where billions of users demand instant access to vast amounts of data. Currently online content makes up an enormous capacity of more than 500 billion gigabytes, all of which resides in datacenters. Datacenters are massive facilities consisting of hundreds or even thousands of servers interconnected with each other. Being the repositories of online content, datacenters are now becoming the “hot spots” of the internet and content providers face up to the challenge of increasing the interconnection speed to improve data delivery to the end user.

MIRAGE aims to raise the bar of optical-interconnect technology currently used in data centers and bring it to the terabit scale. To achieve its challenging mission, the project has defined a multidisciplinary work-plan with objectives that span from material research to cutting edge integration techniques and circuit design, streamlined towards suitability for commercial uptake.

The core technological objectives of MIRAGE are:

  • develope silicon photonic-electronic platform for 3D EPICs
  • develope monolithic CWDM long-wavelength VCSEL arrays with 40 Gb/s/modulation bandwidth
  • develope advanced methodology for industry-compatible component 3D assembly & packaging
  • develope low cost techniques for multicore-fiber coupling
  • fabricate application-specific components using the developed 3D optical engine
  • Evaluate fabricated components in application scenarios


PhoxTroT: PHOtoniCS for High-Performance, Low-Cost & Low-Energy Data Centers, High Performance Computing Systems: TeRabit/s Optical Interconnect Technologies for On-Board, Board-to-Board, Rack-to-Rack data links
[October 2012 – September 2016]

PhoxTroT is a large-scale research effort focusing on high-performance, low-energy and cost and small-size optical interconnects across the different hierarchy levels in data center and high-performance computing systems: on-board, board-to-board and rack-to-rack. PhoxTroT will tackle optical interconnects in a holistic way, synergizing the different fabrication platforms in order to deploy the optimal “mix&match” technology and tailor this to each interconnect layer. PhoxTroT will follow a layered approach from near-term exploitable to more forward looking but of high expected gain activities.

The objective of PhoxTroT is the deployment of

  • Generic building block that can be used for a broad range of applications, extending performance beyond Tb/s and reducing energy by more than 50%.
  • A unified integration/packaging methodology as a cost/energy-reduction factor for board-adaptable 3D SiP transceiver and router optochip fabrication.
  • The whole “food-chain” of low-cost and low-energy interconnect technologies concluding to 3 fully functional prototype systems: an >1Tb/s throughput optical PCB and >50% reduced energy requirements, a high-end >2Tb/s throughput optical backplane for board-to-board interconnection, and a 1.28Tb/s 16QAM Active Optical Cable that reduces power requirements by >70%.