ABSTRACTA general radio frequency (RF)-photonic circuit design for implementing frequency multiplication is proposed. The circuit consists of cascaded differentially driven Mach–Zehnder modulators (MZMs) biased at the minimum transmission point with a progressive RF phase shift of applied to each stage. The frequency multiplication factor obtained is . The novelty of the design is the reduced input RF energy required in comparison to the functionally equivalent parallel MZM configuration. Using the transfer matrix method, an architecture is modelled to obtain frequency sextupling. An industry standard simulation tool is used to verify the architectural concepts and analysis. The proposed design requires neither optical or electrical filtering nor careful adjustment of the modulation index for correct operation. In addition, the overall intrinsic conversion efficiency of the cascade circuit is improved by  dB over a parallel MZM circuit. Finite MZM extinction and/or phase errors and power imbalances in the electric drive signals are also taken into consideration and their impact on the overall performance has been investigated. The circuit can be integrated in any material platform that offers electro-optic modulators.

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