A novel process for fabricating tuneable lasers using micro-machined mirrors was developed by IST project TUNVIC. Part of a special two-part device, it allows variable wavelengths of emitted light that will ultimately allow increased volumes of data to be sent through a single optical fibre cable.
High-capacity data links between networked routers are part of the Internets backbone. These links use optical fibre cables through which information is sent using semiconductor lasers. By deploying several lasers of different wavelengths, it is possible to multiply the volume of data that can be sent through a single optical fibre. And with increased Internet traffic, ever increasing amounts of data will need to be exchanged.
"There is a clear need for this [TUNVIC] fabrication process," says Prof. Peter Meissner of the Technical University of Darmstadt and project coordinator. "For example, in WDM [wavelength division multiplexed] communication links, separate semiconductor lasers are used to generate light for each wavelength. Reliability is a key consideration in operational data links, and the system design incorporates pairs of lasers for each wavelength: one in use, the other as a hot standby. In the event of a failure, the standby laser can take over and maintain the link until the fault is fixed."
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