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By :Kenjal Jain


In this new millennium, we are seeing dramatic changes in the telecommunications industry that have farreaching implications on our lifestyles. There are many drivers for these changes. Tremendous growth of the Internet and the World Wide Web Bandwidth consuming services like video-on-demand and interactive media

Relentless need for more capacity in the network

Optical Fiber Network Evolution

10-9 10-6 10-3 10-1 First Generations Second Generations Third Generations
Optical Burst Switch Optical Circuit Switch Wavelength routing SDH/SONET Point-to-point Optical Packet Switch Optical Circuit Switch/Optical Packet Switch (Optical hybrid switch)

Late 1980s and 1990s

Present Day

5-10 years

10+ Years


The tremendous growth of the internet during the 1990s led to extensive deployment of WDM. WDM, in turn, provided a solution to transmission bottleneck, but created the challenge of switching the large number of wavelength channels it enables. Multi-wavelength data streams have to be terminated at every node, converted to the electrical domain for switching purpose before they are converted back to the optical domain and transmitted to the next node. This type of switching is referred to as O/E/O switching.

O/E/O Switching
E/O Conversion O/E Conversion Electronic Switching

Optical Switching

E/O Conversion
E/O Conversion

Optical Switching

Switching after converting optical signal to electronic signal and after forwarding to next hop switching again to optical signal

All optical switching


Reduction in cost due to Elimination of E/O and O/E conversions Increase in the switching speed, and thus network throughput,

A large increase in optical bandwidth

Decrease in the operating power

Advantage of Optical Switch

Independent of Data Rate and Data Protocol

Electronic equipment is strongly dependent on the data rate and protocol, and thus, any system upgrade results in the addition or replacement of electronic switching equipment. Optical Switching obviates the need for such system upgrade


Optical switch can be implemented with various technologies such as opto-mechanical switch, Thermo-optic switch, MEMS , Electro-optic switch etc Among all the optical switching technologies Electro-Optic switch has a shortest switching time Type Opto-mechanical 2D MEMS 3D MEMS Electro-optic Thermo-optic Liquid Crystal Polymer Acousto-optic SOA Size 8x8 32x32 1000x1000 4x4 8x8 2x2 8x8 1xn 4x4 Insertion Loss (dB) Crosstalk (dB) Switching Time 0.5 5 5 8 8 1 10 6 0 55 55 55 35 40 35 30 35 40 4 ms 10 ms 10 ms 10 ps 3 ms 4 ms 2 ms 3 s 1 ns


An electro-optic switch uses a directional coupler whose coupling ratio is changed by varying the refractive index of the material in the coupling region. One commonly used material is lithium niobate (LiNbO3)

An electrical voltage applied to the electrodes changes the substrates index of refraction The change in the index of refraction manipulates the light through the appropriate waveguide path to the desired port An electro-optic switch is capable of changing its state extremely rapidly, typically in less than a nanosecond.


2X2 Mach-Zehnder interferometer (MZI) is an electro-optic switch consisting of a pair of waveguides which are parallel of each other and separated by a separation distance. Input of optical signal into one of the waveguide of MZI is coupled into one of the output over an evanescent coupling

Design Characteristics
Coupling Power
The coupling process of the optical switch depends on two parameters, the coupling constant, C (depends on the dimension, wavelength and refractive index) and propagation constant difference( difference between the refractive index of the waveguides) Where L0 is the transfer distance, which depends on the efficiency coupling C between each two guides, d is the coupling separation, n is the refractive index of each guide, r is the appropriate Pockels coefficient; V0 depends on the refractive indices and the geometry of the guides.

Switching Voltage Vo =


OptiBPM provides a CAD environment used for the design of complex optical waveguides. Perform guiding, coupling, switching, splitting, multiplexing, and de-multiplexing of optical signals in photonic devices

The tool is based on the Beam Propagation Method (BPM) that solves Maxwell's equations by using finite differences in place of partial derivatives

Provides integrated environment which allows channel, fiber, and diffused waveguides to be combined on a single layout

Key Characteristics

A simple menu selection allows a layout to be simulated with either the 2D or 3D simulation engines

User-defined waveguides allow arbitrary shapes to be created and used in a layout


The switch is created on a z-cut wafer of Lithium Niobate and is surrounded by air cladding. The device is oriented along the Yoptical axis of the Lithium Niobate. The waveguides of Mach-Zehnder interferometer are created by diffusion of Titanium in Lithium Niobate substrate.

Gaps between the 3dB Coupler





First coupler is used to split the signals in two beams, whereas the two signals are put together again into a single signal by the second 3 dB coupler An ideal 3dB coupler will have a splitting or coupling ratio of 50% that is equal power in the two signals By varying the gap of 3dB coupler we attempt to optimize the splitting ratio and hence the performance of the MZI switch

Extinction Ratio (E.R)

This is the ratio of on-off switch, the output power in the on-state to the output power in the offstate. This ratio should be as large as possible and is particularly important in external modulators. The extinction ratio may be expressed as a fraction or in dB. Extinction ratio measurement can be done on an eye diagram also ER =

Insertion Loss (I.L):

This is the fraction of signal power that is lost because of the switch. This loss is usually measured in decibels and must be as small as possible. In addition, the insertion loss of a switch should be about the same for all inputoutput connections (loss uniformity).

IL = Excess Loss (dB)

This is the ratio of total power output from both the ports to the input port. This is measure in decibels and should be as small as possible

EL =


Observation on the design parameters is made by changing the distance between 3 dB coupler from 13m to 15.5m at 0v and then compared the result with the conventional switch of gap 14.5 m

As shown in the above graph the optimal performance is observed at 15um where extinction Ratio is 21.60 dB while at the same time Excess loss and Insertion loss is also reduced


As shown in the above graph there is no change in Switching voltage with the change in the gap between 3dB coupler. However, Insertion loss and Excess loss is reduced and Extinction ratio is improved at 15 m gap as compared to 14.5 m gap


An optimum performance of 2x2 optical switch based on Mach-Zehnder interferometer is achieved at 15m gap between the 3dB coupler instead of 14.5 m With 15um gap between 3dB coupler and 0V at electrode; extinction ratio of 21.6 dB and excess loss, insertion losses of less than 0.02 dB is observed. With 15um gap between 3dB coupler and at switching voltage, extinction ratio of 41.87 dB and insertion losses is less than 0.02 dB. However, with the change in gap between 3 dB coupler no change is observed in the switching voltage

The scope of further work lies in design optimization to reduce the switching voltage and further minimization of losses with proper channelling of the signals.


[1]. Zheng et al., Design and analysis of a polymer Mach-Zehnder interferometer electro-optic switch over a wide spectrum of 110 nm, Optical Engineering Vol. 48(5), pp.054601-10, May 2009. [2]. G.I. Papadimitriou et al., Optical Switching: Switch Fabrics, Techniques, and Architectures, J. Lightw. Techno. Vol.21 No.2, pp.384-405, February 2003. [3]. OptiBPM, Waveguide optics modeling software Optiwave Inc. 2006. system, version 8.0, Second edition,

[4]. G. Singh, V. Janyani, R.P. Yadav, Modelling of a 22 electro-optic MachZehnder Interferometer optical switch with sbend arms, Photonics letters of Poland, Vol.3(3), pp.119121, September 2011 . [5]. Rajiv Ramaswami, Kumar N. Sivarajan Optical Networks, Second edition Elsevier publication.