Improved design of lasers on optoelectronic chips will advance optical communications
When it comes to data transmission, light is superior to electronics. An ability to transmit data in parallel by utilizing multiple light wavelengths allows optical fibers to carry more information than electrical cables.
Current computer technology uses electronics, but a new laser design based on a thin-layered silicon chip may help increase data processing capabilities.
© Olga Miltsova/Hemera/Thinkstock
Computers are currently based on electronics, but they would benefit from employing optical signals. However, for this to become a reality, it needs to be implemented on a small scale and result in low power consumption.
Now, Vivek Krishnamurthy from the A*STAR Data Storage Institute in Singapore and his colleagues have designed a laser on a microelectronic chip that has a lower power consumption and a higher efficiency1.
“By developing lasers on silicon, we can combine the electronic data processing capability of the microelectronic chip with the high energy efficiency of optical communications over distances ranging from a few micrometers within a chip to hundreds of meters in data centers,” says Krishnamurthy.
The processing speed of the microelectronic chip is limited by its power consumption; most of the power is consumed by the connecting electrical wires and links. Optical links, on the other hand, consume practically no energy but are limited by the power consumption of the light source, which is often a laser.
For optical links to be feasible on a small scale, the electrical power consumption of lasers must be reduced, yet still be able to generate sufficient optical energy for transmission.
Lasers cannot be made from silicon as it is a poor light emitter. Instead, lasers are fabricated by bonding an active material based on indium phosphide — a good light emitter — to a thin silicon film. However, because silicon is better for carrying optical signals, the light from the laser needs to be routed through the silicon chip via optical channels. This requires fabricating optical channels in silicon outside the laser region.
Generating light efficiently in the active medium and efficiently routing it via the silicon layer simultaneously reduces the electrical current required and increases the power generated. Calculations show that this silicon-based design will have a three to four times higher light generation efficiency than competing schemes.
This high efficiency makes the silicon-based laser design promising for making optical chips, which, says Krishnamurthy, is the next step for the project team. “We have begun the experimental demonstration of the laser,” he says. “Our plan is to integrate this laser onto our silicon platform and develop a fully functional photonic system for applications, for example, in data communications and storage.”
The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Data Storage Institute
Krishnamurthy, V., Wang, Q., Pu, J., Loh, T.-H. & Ho, S. T. Optical design of distributed feedback lasers-on-thin-film-silicon. IEEE Photonics Technology Letters 25, 944–947 (2013).
A*STAR Research | ResearchSEA News
New software speeds origami structure designs
12.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology
Seeing the next dimension of computer chips
11.10.2017 | Osaka University
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
18.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy