The growing demand for flexibility in optical networks has created a strong need for dynamic optical power splitters. Static optical splitters can both deliver a huge bandwidth within the access network and control the power from a central office and local distribution sites.
However, the dynamic nature of future services demands reconfigurable optical splitting to maintain the network at its maximum efficiency, and the limited flexibility of static optical splitters is a major drawback for future reconfigurable optical networks. A smooth migration from passive to totally dynamic optical splitters is therefore crucial for reconfigurable optical networks. The essential characteristics of next-generation optical splitters include wide bandwidth, the ability of providing dynamic splitting profiles, low insertion loss, fast switching speed, software-driven control, small size, and low cost.
A novel adaptive optical splitter structure employing an Opto-VLSI processor and 4-f imaging system has recently been experimentally demonstrated. By driving the Opto-VLSI processor with computer generated multicasting phase holograms, an input optical signal launched into an input optical fibre port can be split and coupled into many output optical fibre ports with arbitrary splitting ratios. A proof-of-principle 1×2 adaptive optical splitter structure driven by optimized multicasting phase holograms uploaded onto the Opto-VLSI processor has been developed, demonstrating an arbitrary splitting ratio over a wavelength range exceeding 50nm.