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IQE’s 850nm VCSELs achieve key milestones

The firm's gallium arsenide (GaAs) based laser products have broken barriers in high volume photonic communications applications
IQE has announced that its vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) devices using wafers produced at its Cardiff, UK facility have broken the 40 Gbit/s barrier at high temperatures.

This is a key milestone in the adoption of photonic technologies for a wide range of data communications applications.

Optical communications provide the only reliable means of transferring the large volumes of data at ultra-high speeds needed in today’s data centres. The computing environments in which the data is transferred generally operate at elevated temperatures which make reliable operation at high temperature an essential element for the deployment of optical components.

VCSELs provide the primary light source for short-reach optical communication and currently provide the enabling technology for high capacity optical interconnect cables in storage area networks such as data centres and server farms.

VCSEL enabled, multimode fibre optic interconnects optimised for transmission speed at a wavelength of 850 nm are also used in high performance computing systems such as computer clusters and supercomputers.

Current high speed optical interconnects use VCSEL technology to operate at serial data rates of between 10-14 Gbit/s, with devices expected to perform at 25-28 Gbit/s under development. Next generation optical interconnect standards are expected to require data rates in excess of 40 Gbit/s. Such devices will be required to operate at the high ambient temperatures expected inside datacomms equipment.

The results were achieved at a modulation bandwidth of 27GHz at 250C and 21GHz at 850C, which is the highest for any VCSEL and the data rate is the highest of any VCSEL-based optical link without equalisation. This is also the first 40 Gbit/s VCSEL operating at elevated temperatures, which is of utmost importance for practical applications.

The results also generated significant commercial interest when they were presented at the Optical Fibre Communication Conference (OFC) in Anaheim, California, last month.

Drew Nelson, CEO of IQE plc, says, “Photonics applications are emerging as a key enabling technology and the deployment of devices such as VCSELs is expected to rapidly increase over the coming years as global data usage grows exponentially."

He continues, “IQE has a powerful reputation as a world leader in the development of a range of photonic devices and is pleased to work with notable experts in the field such as Chalmers University of Technology in the development of next generation products.”

More details of this work has been published by Chalmers University of Technology and IQE in a paper in IEEE Photonics Technology Letters (Vol. 25, No. 8, pp. 768-771, 2013). It reports on the successful development of VCSEL devices operating at data rates of up to 47 Gbit/s at 250C and 40 Gbit/s at 850C.


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