The research team led by Professor Wang Cheng from the Department of Electrical Engineering (EE) at City University of Hong Kong (CityUHK) has made a groundbreaking discovery in the field of analog electronic signal processing and computation. They have developed a state-of-the-art microwave photonic chip that outperforms traditional electronic processors in terms of speed and energy consumption. This chip has the potential to revolutionize various industries, including 5/6G wireless communication systems, high-resolution radar systems, artificial intelligence, computer vision, and image/video processing.

The team’s findings, published in Nature under the title “Integrated Lithium Niobate Microwave Photonic Processing Engine,” highlight the collaborative effort with The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). The researchers have successfully integrated a microwave photonic system that combines ultrafast electro-optic (EO) conversion with low-loss, multifunctional signal processing on a single chip. This achievement has not been seen before, showcasing the team’s innovative approach to addressing the challenges faced by integrated MWP systems.

The foundation for this groundbreaking research was laid in 2018 when colleagues at Harvard University and Nokia Bell labs developed the world’s first CMOS-compatible integrated electro-optic modulators on the lithium niobate (LN) platform. LN, often referred to as the “silicon of photonics,” plays a crucial role in enabling the development of photonics chips with compact sizes, high signal fidelity, and low latency. This material is comparable to silicon in microelectronics, underscoring its significance in the field of photonics.

This innovative research opens up a new research field, LN microwave photonics, paving the way for the creation of microwave photonics chips capable of high-speed analog computation with broad processing bandwidths of 67 GHz and exceptional computation accuracies. The integrated MWP processing engine based on the thin-film lithium niobate platform represents a major step forward in chip-scale analog electronic processing and computing. The applications of this revolutionary technology are vast, promising to enhance the performance and efficiency of various systems across different industries.

The research team at City University of Hong Kong has made a significant contribution to the field of analog signal processing and computation with the development of their world-leading microwave photonic chip. Their innovative approach to integrating ultrafast electro-optic conversion with low-loss signal processing on a single chip has the potential to transform the way we approach wireless communication systems, radar systems, artificial intelligence, computer vision, and image/video processing. As the field of microwave photonics continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more groundbreaking discoveries that push the boundaries of what is possible in analog electronic processing and computation.


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