Breakthrough in computer chip design eliminates wires in data transmission

New research available

Research slated to appear in the October 2 edition of the Optical Society of America's (OSA) Optics Express will unveil that researchers have created a new laser-silicon hybrid computer chip that can produce laser beams that will make it possible to use laser light rather than wires to send data between chips, removing the most significant bottleneck in computer design.

The development is a result of research at Intel, the world's largest chipmaker, and the University of California, Santa Barbara. Commercializing the new technology may not happen before the end of the decade, but the prospect of being able to place hundreds or thousands of data-carrying light beams on standard industry chips is certain to make waves in both the communications and computer industries.

The paper describes the development of a computer chip that uses indium-phosphide-based lasers rather than electrical wires to transmit data to neighboring computer chips, promising a much higher rate of data transfer than previously possible in practical computing devices.

"This is an important time of change in the field of optics," said Dr. John Bowers, director, Multidisciplinary Optical Switching Technology Center (MOST) and professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "Laying the groundwork for high-volume, fast, high- performance optical devices is crucial. The Hybrid Silicon Laser we describe in our Optics Express article allows lasers to be integrated onto a silicon substrate and paves the way for future optical communications at low cost."

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The research is scheduled to appear in Optics Express (www.opticsexpress.org), a completely Open Access, online journal published by OSA. Optics Express is the most highly cited scientific journal in optics and photonics. It publishes peer-reviewed articles on a bi-weekly basis that report new developments in all fields of optical science and technology. As the leading association for the optics and photonics industry, OSA promotes cutting-edge research that spans all applications and industries.

About OSA

Celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2006, the Optical Society of America (OSA) brings together an international network of the industry's preeminent optics and photonics scientists, engineers, educators, technicians and business leaders. Representing more than 14,000 members from more than 80 different countries, OSA promotes the worldwide generation, application and dissemination of optics and photonics knowledge through its meetings, events and journals. Since its founding in 1916, OSA member benefits, programming, publications, products and services have set the industry's standard of excellence. Additional information on OSA is available on the Society's Web site at www.osa.org.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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