LONDON Researchers at Intel and the University of California, Santa Barbara have made what they say is a major breakthrough in making hybrid silicon lasers that they suggest could have a huge impact on chip-to chip communication and on optical communications networks.
The groups plan to outline details of the silicon photonics technology later on Monday (Sept. 19), which is said to add an Indium Phosphide based light source to Intel’s already announced silicon laser.
The researchers caution that commercializing the laser chip could take till the end of the decade, but suggest being able to place hundreds or thousands of data-carrying light beams on standard industry chips will have the potential "to reshape the data center, could improve the way fiber is delivered to the home and potentially trigger the next paradigm shift since the introduction of fiber."
The teams indicate bonding the silicon and InP-based laser chips can be achieved at relatively low temperatures and with acceptable and cost effective manufacturing techniques. They suggest the device could handle data rates of between 20Gbit/s to 40Gbit/s, up from today’s 10Gbit/s.
Initial test lasers stopped working at temperatures above about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but the researchers believe they have identified ways to reduce the sensitivity to heat.
John Bowers, director of the multidisciplinary optical switching technology center at UC-Santa Barbara, who is involved in the research, says dozens or hundreds of lasers could be integrated on to a single chip.
The results of the development work are due to be reported in the next issue of specialist publication Optics Express .