Photonics: Silicon Steps Up

IME researchers have designed and fabricated a high performance wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) receiver with 32 channels using silicon photonics technology. Each channel is capable of operating at a data rate of at least 10 Gbps, giving the WDM receiver an aggregate data rate of 320 Gbps, thereby addressing the data transmission demand in optics communication. The chip area attained from this work is about 100-fold smaller than that of externally-packaged photodetector with traditionally-assembled components. This first demonstration indicates the feasibility and potential of manufacturing low cost, ultra-compact silicon WDM receivers for terabit data communications. Other potential applications for the WDM receiver include photodetectors, as well as optical sensors with multiplexing capabilities, paving the way for inexpensive bandwidth on demand.