Optical processing techniques are expected to play a key role in the next generation of advanced high-speed analog- to-digital converters (ADCs). These techniques will alleviate the current limitations inherent in conventional electronic ADCs. We are currently developing a novel photonic ADC module that incorporates the use of semiconductor saturable absorbers to perform the data quantization at speeds in the tens of GHz regime. Results will be presented for the experimental material characterization of the semiconductor saturable absorbers used in the data conversion process. Enhancement of the contrast ratio of the saturable absorber between the 'on' state and the 'off' state can also be greatly enhanced by the use of an asymmetric Fabry-Perot etalon. Initial experimental results for a saturable absorber contained within an etalon will also be presented.© (2002) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.