ECOC show participation

September again, and (to misquote Lord Alfred Tennyson) a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of – ECOC!

This year, ECOC will be in the beautiful University city of Gothenburg, home of the famous Feskekôrka or “Fish Church” (which is actually a fish market) as well as a lovely archipelago right on the city’s doorstep.  I’m looking forward to visiting Gothenburg for the first time and catching up with customers and colleagues as well as sampling some of the fresh seafood that forms the heart of the area’s cuisine.

Online Knowledgebase for WaveShaper and WaveAnalyzer

It’s now a year since the introduction of our updated WaveShaper Series A family of Optical Signal Processors at ECOC 2016 in Düsseldorf.   Improved optical specifications, together with the new web-based interface and RESTful API have confirmed the WaveShaper Family as key enablers for photonic research in a broad range of applications.  Whilst we continue to try and make operation of the WaveShaper (and the companion WaveAnalyzer instruments) as easy and intuitive as possible, from time-to-time questions still pop up.  Users can now check for answers in the newly established Online Knowledgebase at http://www.finisarknowledgebase.com/.  A direct link to the knowledgebase is also provided in the “Help” menu in the WaveShaper and WaveAnalyzer software.

Information can be found by a simple search and includes code examples as well as ‘”How to” instructions. The content of the knowledgebase is growing quickly and additional topics are added frequently. In case you cannot find an answer to your specific question or problem, you can still contact the Finisar test instrument team at waveshaper@finisar.com.

ON2020 Optical Networking Initiative

Making predictions about the long-term evolution of optical networking is a difficult and dangerous pastime, as new technologies (eg coherent) and architectural developments (eg superchannels) are continually altering the direction and rate of evolution of the network.

The ON2020 Optical Networking Initiative is an effort which is, to quote the ON2020 website, working to define new optical network requirements and specifications, develop general network technology roadmaps and evolution scenarios, and foster an open and sustainable ecosystem for end users, service providers, and equipment and component vendors to collectively address the optical networking demands in the cloud era. ON2020 aims to provide long-term industry visions beyond current product developments that will help to set the longer-term goals and directions for the fiber-optic communications industry.

Finisar is a supporter of this initiative and as part of this process, ON2020 has been surveying the network needs and evolution strategies of leading network operators in Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America. The results of the survey will give indications, inter alia, on what aggregate capacities might be needed, bandwidths for individual links, the importance of superchannel transceivers and need for “white box” solutions, as well as the further development of ROADM networking.

The results of the ON2020 survey will be shared at a read-out session led by members of the ON2020 steering committee, during the ECOC 2017 conference in Gothenburg, immediately after the opening Plenary session on Monday. For more information, please visit the ON2020 website at www.on2020.org.

The future of VR/AR?

Whilst we think that Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) technology is the bees-knees for WSS, there are many other applications of LCoS, with one of the most interesting being the areas of virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR). To see where this technology is heading, check out these papers from the researchers at Microsoft and Oculus on the future of 3D VR/AR.  Both are quite a way from being products, but provide some interesting pointers as to what we might expect at some time in the future.

Finisar Australia Recognized by the Institute of Engineers Australia NSW Branch

We are very pleased to announce that Finisar Australia was awarded the 2016 Control Systems, Networks, Information Processing and Telecommunications Excellence Award by the Institute of Engineers Australia NSW Branch. The award, which forms part of the Australian Engineering Excellence Awards was given for the development and commercialisation of the Coherent Optical Measurement System (COMS), which forms the core of our WaveAnalyzer and HR-OCM products.

The award was presented at a gala dinner, attended by over 500 people, at the Sheraton Darling Harbour in October. The photo below shows some the successful engineering team that developed the core technology, along with the trophy and certificate received.

As a winner of the NSW State award, the COMS technology is now in the running for a National award, the results of which will be announced at the Engineers Australia Annual Dinner in Brisbane at the end of November.

Congratulations to everyone involved in the COMS development on winning this award.

FinisarAustralia_2016AusEngNSWStateAward

The aftermath of Photonics West 2015

Well, that was intense!

As expected, Photonics West was its usual insane self. Despite a personal resolution to get to see more of the technical sessions this year, the exciting traffic at the Finisar booth meant that even getting a few minutes to walk the show floor was a bit of stretch.

The new WaveShaper 1000/SP for 1µm which we launched at the show was a definite hit, with a number of existing WaveShaper™ customers exclaiming “At last! We’ve been waiting for 1 µm version for ages. When can we get one?” For those who missed it, the WaveShaper 1000S/SP for 1µm is a single-polarization, fully-fibered pulse shaper, complete with its own GUI for ease of use and programming API for system integration. We have already supplied the first demo units to a short-pulse laser manufacturer and plan to be shipping more demo units over the short term.

Amongst the huge number of technical papers in the biophotonics area, the various flavors of Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) continue to receive a high level of attention at both research and commercial levels. It is also apparent that femto-second lasers (usually fiber-based) are clearly a growing area for commercial development. By the time we finished dismantling and packing up the booth on Thursday evening, it was definitely time for a cold drink. A few weeks to recover and then we’re off to laser World of Photonics in Shanghai from the 17-19th March and OFC in Los Angeles from the 24th to 26th March.

See you there!

Finisar and LightSmyth at Photonics West 2015

Happy New Year to all our blog readers!

If you hadn’t heard, next week is the annual SPIE Photonics West extravaganza at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. With over 20,000 attendees, 1,250 exhibiting companies, and 4,700 technical papers on a variety of topics from biophotonics, through industrial lasers to display technologies, Photonics West dwarfs the major optical communications conferences like OFC and ECOC. Finisar will be co-exhibiting with LightSmyth, a world leader in diffraction gratings, in booth 4212, February 10th-12th.

This year Finisar will be showcasing its expanding WaveShaper™ product family. The WaveShaper instrument was derived from our line of LCoS-based Wavelength Selective Switches and has achieved great success in research labs and production lines associated with the optical communications industry.

In addition, we found that some of our customers were using these instruments to develop novel designs of short-pulse erbium-doped fibre lasers, where the ability of the WaveShaper to control both the phase and amplitude of the light was used to control the laser pulse shape and duration. Their early feedback (in addition to the fact that this was cool, great technology) was that, for stability, mode-locked fibre lasers are generally built with polarization-maintaining fibre and that the WaveShaper instrument, being polarization-independent, was causing instabilities which affected the laser performance. We therefore re-engineered the optical design of the WaveShaper and developed our WaveShaper 1000/SP model, which was a single-polarization version of the WaveShaper 1000. This overcame the instability problem and has now been adopted by researchers and laser manufacturers to control pulse-shapes at 1.5µm.

Subsequently, we have been approached by other researchers and manufacturers working with Ytterbium and Neodymium fibre lasers around 1µm to see if we can build something similar to work at this shorter wavelength. We have now done this and are launching our new WaveShaper 1000/SP for 1µm at this Photonics West trade show. Providing the same amplitude and phase control capabilities as its 1.5µm older brother, the WaveShaper 1000S/SP pulse shaper for 1µm is a single-polarization, fully-fibered pulse shaper, complete with its own GUI (for ease of use) and programming API (for system integration).

In addition to the pulse control capabilities of the WaveShaper 1000/SP, Finisar also supplies the world’s highest quality pulse-compression gratings through its LightSmyth subsidiary. With > 94% diffraction efficiency optimized for linear p-polarization, LightSmyth gratings provide exceptional power-handling and performance as well as minimizing optical losses in the system, which is especially critical for high energy lasers.

All of these, plus our range of Finisar high-speed detectors, with bandwidths up to 100 GHz, will be on display next week at the Photonics West Trade Show.

See you there!

OFC 2014 Wrap-Up

The industry’s highly anticipated OFC event was held earlier this month in lovely San Francisco. Here’s a chance to look back on a busy week in the City by the Bay.

With 800 presentations, 550 exhibitors (including Finisar of course), and 12,700 attendees, OFC is the largest optical communications conference in the US. Although, to be fair, Photonics West also at the Moscone Centre a few weeks prior, is about 50% bigger. Day-time temperatures during the week were in the 60s and along with the balmy nights and absence of rain, it was a beautiful week to spend in technical and customer meetings. Not even a news breaking 5-alarm fire just a few blocks away could distract from the focused technical frenzy that is OFC.

Whilst in 2013, the interest around Silicon Photonics made it difficult to distinguish fact from hope, the Si vs. InP debate this year was more reasoned, in my humble opinion, and the major players are starting to recognise that there will ultimately be a place for both technologies. With Finisar’s recent acquisition of u2t, we clearly see a great future ahead for InP-based components but, as we’ve often said, silicon remains an interesting option in certain niche applications.

I personally managed to get quite a long way out of my comfort zone by attending the workshop on Quantum Key Distribution. The recent furore over the activities of the NSA and other government agencies makes this a very interesting topic but the whole QKD area is clearly hampered by (a) the fundamental difficulty of sending individual photons far enough and fast enough to allow for high-speed key distribution (no amplifiers allowed as this corrupts the photon state and scrambles the transmission) and (b) the slow rate of progress in quantum computers, which is where QKD will really find its niche should such beasts ever escape from the realms of possibility into the realms of probability.

From a Finisar perspective, we were well represented on multiple panel and Market Watch segments as well has presenting a number of papers during the technical sessions. A highlight was an invited paper on the development and applications of the WaveShaper by Michael Roelens, which was particularly well-attended with over 300 people in the audience.

The ‘informal’ part of OFC was also its usual hectic self – our annual Australia vs. US pool match on Sunday ended (I think) in an honourable draw. It was a personal worst on Wednesday evening with quadruple bookings for receptions; my apologies to the Southampton University ORC Alumni and Photonics in Ottawa for not making it to their respective events.

Next year we’re off again to downtown Los Angeles for OFC 2015, but remember, it’s only another three years until we’re back in San Diego! Hope to see you in LA next March.

Feel free to comment on your favorite part of the annual OFC week!