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UK begins drawing optoelectronic master plan

Six month capital injection will show where British facilities working on internet infrastructure are most likely to get access to European research cash.

The UK government is investing £1 million ($1.55 million) into a series of optoelectronic feasibility studies that it says will lead to “pan-European ultra fast broadband“.

Each of the planning projects will cost between £30,000 and £100,000 and feature significant contributions from III-V stalwarts Oclaro - formed by the merger of Avanex and Bookham - and IQE.

Mike Biddle, lead technologist at the self-described “business-led public body” the Technology Strategy Board, says the money should identify networking issues that the UK can help solve.

“Our intention in providing this funding is to help British companies establish future European collaborations that will participate in larger EU funding initiatives,” he said.

Of the thirteen studies in the “ultra fast broadband” project, which will go on for up to six months, Oclaro features in six. This includes examining how to increase the deployment of its InP tunable lasers to enable 10 Gbit/s connections at the lowest possible cost.

The San Jose, California, headquartered optoelectronic component and subsystem manufacturer is also leading an effort looking at how 10 Gbit/s access networks will be established across Europe.

The “roadmapping” effort also includes leading insititutions, including network operator BT, system manufacturer Ericsson, and Cambridge University. Together the partners will find the best way to maximize opportunities for UK institutions in the next stage of the Photonics21 European technology platform.

A third Oclaro study will look at integrating arrayed waveguide gratings with the tunable lasers produced at its Caswell InP fab, which helps it qualify for UK funding. It will partner with Livingston, Scotland, based component maker Gemfire and the University of Essex in this work.

Epiwafer producer IQE is involved in two studies, and its chip manufacturing foundry partner CST Global is involved with three. The two will work together on the feasibility of producing uncooled AlInGaAs laser diodes at low cost.

“We are looking to solve the paradox of producing diode sources with telecoms grade quality, with consumer grade pricing,” said IQE s project leader Wyn Meredith.

IQE and CST Global are also looking at manufacturing diode lasers with narrower linewidths and better side mode suppression ratios than the best existing distributed feedback lasers.

Together with Glasgow University, CST Global is also evaluating the possibility of producing optoelectronic integrated integrated circuits that monolithically integrate a resonant tunneling diode with a laser diode. This could produce a single-chip optical-wireless interface for use in indoor base-stations such as femtocells or picocells.

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