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  1. Abstract

    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.

  2. Deep neural networks (DNNs) consist of layers of neurons interconnected by synaptic weights. A high bit-precision in weights is generally required to guarantee high accuracy in many applications. Minimizing error accumulation between layers is also essential when building large-scale networks. Recent demonstrations of photonic neural networks are limited in bit-precision due to cross talk and the high sensitivity of optical components (e.g., resonators). Here, we experimentally demonstrate a record-high precision of 9 bits with a dithering control scheme for photonic synapses. We then numerically simulated the impact with increased synaptic precision on a wireless signal classification application. This work could help realize the potential of photonic neural networks for many practical, real-world tasks.

  3. We propose and experimentally demonstrate an optical pulse sampling method for photonic blind source separation. The photonic system processes and separates wideband signals based on the statistical information of the mixed signals, and thus the sampling frequency can be orders of magnitude lower than the bandwidth of the signals. The ultra-fast optical pulses collect samples of the signals at very low sampling rates, and each sample is short enough to maintain the statistical properties of the signals. The low sampling frequency reduces the workloads of the analog to digital conversion and digital signal processing systems. In the meantime, the short pulse sampling maintains the accuracy of the sampled signals, so the statistical properties of the under-sampled signals are the same as the statistical properties of the original signals. The linear power range measurement shows that the sampling system with ultra-narrow optical pulse achieves a 30dB power dynamic range.
  4. 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.