Skip to Main Content
Tunable optical delay lines have many applications for high-performance optical switching and signal processing. Slow light has emerged as an enabling technology for achieving continuously tunable optical delays. Delay reconfigurability opens up a whole new field of nonlinear signal processing using slow light. In this paper, the authors review recent advances in slow-light-based optical signal processing, with a focus on the data fidelity after traversing the slow light elements. The concept of slow-light-induced data pattern dependence is introduced and is shown to be the main signal degrading effect. We then propose and experimentally demonstrate phase-preserving slow light by delaying 10 Gb/s differential phase-shift keying (DPSK) signals with reduced DPSK pattern dependence. Spectrally efficient slow light using advanced multilevel phase-modulated formats is further described. With this technique, doubled bit-rate signals can be transmitted through a bandwidth-limited slow light element. We finally show several novel slow-light-based signal processing modules. Unique features such as multichannel operation, variable bit-rate capability, and simultaneous multiple functions are highlighted.