EPFC - Electro-Photonic Frequency Converter


The objective of the activity is to design, manufacture, and test an Engineering Model of an Electro-Photonic Frequency Converter for telecommunications payloads.


Technical challenges of the project are designing a compact and integrated version of the frequency converter, fabricating high performance PIC and integrating this PIC into a PCB.


The core units of the EPFC to be developed reflect a one-to-one substitution of the core units of a microwave FC. Integrated Photonic Circuit (PIC) provides a compact, low mass and low power consumption solution.


The product has frequency conversion capability from Ka-band (27.5-31 GHz) to L-band (1.5 GHz) within 500 MHz bandwidth. Input level of the RF signal is -30 dB. Using a MLL laser a high (16 GHz) optical sampling frequency can be generated to enable reducing the LO frequency. In this architecture, RF signal and LO apply to the MZM modulator arms in a dual parallel mode.

System Architecture

Optical sub-sampling together with LO and RF mixing is the baseline architecture for the project. Each signal is applied to the MZM arms and then mixing products are converted back to the electrical signal in the PD.


During the project multiple milestones are envisioned. Before PDR, review on the technical approaches will be done. Development and testing plan are before DDR. Then, final report follows the manufacturing and testing.

Current status

This project investigates the possibility of providing an optical frequency converter based in integrated photonic circuit (PIC). In this project two main photonics platforms are investigated; Silicon photonics and Heterogeneous integration of InP-on-Silicon photonics. It comes in contrast that indeed integrated circuit provides more compact, energy efficient and low mass solution for the optical microwave applications. Follow up project proposal is under preparation to ESA.


ESA Contacts

Status date

Friday, September 28, 2018 - 09:28