Microwave communications have witnessed an incipient proliferation of multi-antenna and opportunistic technologies in the wake of an ever-growing demand for spectrum resources, while facing increasingly difficult network management over widespread channel interference and heterogeneous wireless broadcasting. Radio frequency (RF) blind source separation (BSS) is a powerful technique for demixing mixtures of unknown signals with minimal assumptions, but relies on frequency dependent RF electronics and prior knowledge of the target frequency band. We propose photonic BSS with unparalleled frequency agility supported by the tremendous bandwidths of photonic channels and devices. Specifically, our approach adopts an RF photonic front-end to process RF signals at various frequency bands within the same array of integrated microring resonators, and implements a novel two-step photonic BSS pipeline to reconstruct source identities from the reduced dimensional statistics of front-end output. We verify the feasibility and robustness of our approach by performing the first proof-of-concept photonic BSS experiments on mixed-over-the-air RF signals across multiple frequency bands. The proposed technique lays the groundwork for further research in interference cancellation, radio communications, and photonic information processing.
The expansion of telecommunications incurs increasingly severe crosstalk and interference, and a physical layer cognitive method, called blind source separation (BSS), can effectively address these issues. BSS requires minimal prior knowledge to recover signals from their mixtures, agnostic to the carrier frequency, signal format, and channel conditions. However, previous electronic implementations did not fulfil this versatility due to the inherently narrow bandwidth of radio-frequency (RF) components, the high energy consumption of digital signal processors (DSP), and their shared weaknesses of low scalability. Here, we report a photonic BSS approach that inherits the advantages of optical devices and fully fulfils its “blindness” aspect. Using a microring weight bank integrated on a photonic chip, we demonstrate energy-efficient, wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) scalable BSS across 19.2 GHz processing bandwidth. Our system also has a high (9-bit) resolution for signal demixing thanks to a recently developed dithering control method, resulting in higher signal-to-interference ratios (SIR) even for ill-conditioned mixtures.
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- Nature Communications
- Nature Publishing Group
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- National Science Foundation
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