The UCSB Terabit Optical Ethernet Center (TOEC) and the Greening of Photonic Technologies

Oct 20, 2010  |  4:00pm | ESB 1001
Daniel Blumenthal
Director, Terabit Optical Ethernet Center

Imagine if all the data traveling throughout the world right now—on long distance networks and between and within computers and other hardware—could be sent through a single fiber the width of a human hair.  In this talk we will present the vision and current research being performed under a newly launched center at UCSB, whose mission is to make this a reality by developing technologies necessary for a new generation of Ethernet a thousand times faster, and much more energy efficient than the most advanced networks being deployed today. The Terabit Optical Ethernet Center (TOEC) has as its vision and roadmap 1 Terabit Ethernet over optical fiber by 2015 and 100 Terabit Ethernet by 2020. Ethernet, the way computers talk to each other over a network and first implemented in the 1980s, has become the standard for data transmission for all networks from small-scale to global-scale. Current Ethernet technologies will be difficult to push much past 100 Gigabits per second without new innovations, predominately because of the amount of power needed to run and cool the systems. Large data centers and communications networks consume as much power as a small city requiring new generations of Ethernet that are much more energy-efficient and cost-effective. In as little as five years today’s state of the art Ethernet will have trouble keeping up with the speed and bandwidth required for applications like video and cloud computing. The Center’s goal is to develop energy-saving photonic network technologies that will allow applications and the underlying networks to scale way beyond today’s capacity, paving the way for greening future networks and the systems.  Current research efforts and recent results in photonic integration geared towards Terabit Optical Ethernet will be described in this talk as well as the driving applications and the structure of TOEC.

TOEC was formed under the Institute for Energy Efficiency (IEE) with founding industrial affiliates Verizon, Google, Intel, Keysight Technologies and Rockwell Collins and existing projects funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Microsystems Technology Office (MTO).  Faculty members of TOEC are ECE Professors D. Blumenthal, J. Bowers, L. Coldren, N. Dagli and M. Rodwell.


Daniel J. Blumenthal (S’91–M’93–SM’97–F’03) received the B.S.E.E. degree from the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, in 1981, the M.S.E.E. degree from Columbia University, New York, in 1988, and the Ph.D. degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1993. In 1981 he worked at StorageTek, Louisville, CO, and from 1993 to 1997 he was Assistant Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta.

He is currently a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Blumenthal is Director of the recently formed Terabit Optical Ethernet Cetner (TOEC) and the LASOR project at UCSB, a project funded by the DARPA/MTO Data in the Optical Domain Network (DOD-N) program. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for National LambdaRail (NLR) and serves on the Internet2 Architecture Advisory Council. He is a co-founder of Calient Networks (established 1999) and more recently Packet Photonics, LLC. His research interests are in optical communications, photonic packet switching and all-optical networks, all-optical wavelength conversion and regeneration, ultra-fast communications, InP Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICS) and nanophotonic device technologies. He has authored or co-authored over 350 papers in these and related areas, holds 7 patents and is co-author of Tunable Laser Diodes and Related Optical Sources (New York: IEEE–Wiley, 2005).

Dr. Blumenthal is a Fellow of the IEEE (LEOS and Communications Societies) and Fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA). He is recipient of a 1999 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from the White House, a 1994 National Science Foundation Young Investigator (NYI) Award, and a 1997 Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program (YIP) Award. He has served as an Associate Editor for the IEEE PHOTONICS TECHNOLOGY LETTERS and as Associate Editor for the IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON COMMUNICATIONS. Dr. Blumenthal was Guest Editor for the JSTQE Special Issue on Ultri-Fast Integrated Photonics and has served as a Guest Editor for the IEEE JOURNAL OF LIGHTWAVE TECHNOLOGY special issue on Photonic Packet Switching Systems (December 1998) and the IEEE JOURNAL OF SELECTED AREAS IN COMMUNICATIONS special issue on High-Performance Optical/Electronic Switches/Routers for High-Speed Internet.

Dr. Blumenthal has served as the General Program Chair for the 2001 OSA Topical Meeting on Photonics in Switching and as Program Chair for the 1999 Meeting on Photonics in Switching. He has also served on numerous other technical program committees including the Conference on Optical Fiber Communications OFC (1997 - 2000), the Conference on Lasers and Electrooptics CLEO (1999-2000), the European Conference on Optical Communications ECOC (2004-2005) and SIGCOMM 2006.

Event TypeSeminar