Paul R. Prucnal

Professor of Electrical Engineering
Ph.D. 1979, Columbia University

Professor Prucnal's research was recently highlighted in the Princeton Weekly Bulletin and the School of Engineering News

Research in my group, the Lightwave Communications Laboratory, is focused on investigating ultrafast optical techniques with application to communication networks, as well as on testing and measurement systems.

In the area of communication networks, we have been the first to demonstrate a 100 gigabit/sec packet switching node, which is one hundred times faster than any previous packet switch with comparable functionality. This project has resulted in numerous publications on the subjects of the physics of nonlinear semiconductor optical switches, ultrafast optical timing synchronization and routing control, ultrafast demultiplexing, fabrication and measurement of ultrafast time delays, high-dimensionality switching in the time domain, simulation of transmission effects with ultrashort pulses, simulation of multihop network performance, and finally, the node demonstration.

Also in the area of communication networks, we have embarked on a new program that aims at demonstrating a 100 Gbit/sec multiprocessor interconnect testbed. The emphasis of this project is on developing a new network architecture that is robust and scalable. This involves the design of components and subsystems that are scalable and integratable, as well as the demonstration of a fully functioning system testbed. This work is expected to have a tremendous impact on systems requiring large, fast switches, such as the Internet, because it offers 1,000 times lower latency than any other switching network.

We have also embarked on several new research projects. The first has involved work on optoelectronic packaging, which has been concerned with studying the key issues underlying building switched delay line structures, including time-delay fabrication and measurement, low loss alignment and coupling of fibers to waveguide-based devices, and CAD software for simulation and automated control of coupling systems.

A second new area that has begun this year is ultrafast measurement and testing. The first real-time 100-GHZ analog optical sampling device was demonstrated in the lightwave lab a few months ago, and we are in the process of investigating applications to optical A/D conversion as well as medical imaging. This work is part of the New Jersey Center for Ultrafast Laser Applications. One of the center's objectives will be to investigate ultrafast optical tomography at wavelength 790 nm.

With a high degree of interaction between government and industrial research laboratories, the Lightwave Communications Laboratory offers students an opportunity to be involved in the creation of the next generation Internet, the development of all-optical computer networks, and in research into novel optical imaging and sampling systems.