Abstract

Segmented Mach–Zehnder modulators are promising solutions to generate complex modulation schemes in the migration towards optical links with a higher-spectral efficiency. We present an optical transmitter comprising a segmented-electrode InP IQ-MZM, capable of multilevel optical signal generation (5-bit per I/Q arm) by employing direct digital drive from integrated, low-power (1W) CMOS binary drivers. We discuss the advantages and design tradeoffs of the segmented driver structure and the implementation in a 40 nm CMOS technology. Multilevel operation with combined phase and amplitude modulation is demonstrated experimentally on a single MZM of the device for 2-ASK-2PSK and 4-ASK-2-PSK, showing potential for respectively 16-QAM and 64-QAM modulation in future assemblies.

© 2016 IEEE

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