Posted: January 21, 2010

Multiple wavelength laser helps silicon chip see the light

(Nanowerk News) The ultra-small revolution has begun with the invention of a new laser that will allow light to be used on a computer chip. Assoc. Professor David Moss, a senior researcher at The University of Sydney, leads an international team which has developed a multiple wavelength laser on a silicon chip that produces light to process and transmit information, and in doing so will speed up computing.
"The on-chip light source will be key to enabling the simultaneous transmission of multiple data channels either on-chip or between chips in a single optical fibre, each at a different wavelength," says Moss, adding that this technology will ultimately provide the consumer with cheaper and faster computers.
"Currently information on a chip is shuffled around using electronic signals over copper wires, or interconnects. We know that metal is prone to 'choking' on the bandwidth bottleneck." Moss, whose paper "CMOS compatible integrated optical hyper-parametric oscillator" has been recently published in Nature Photonics (concurrently with a report from Cornell University on a similar device), says using light for simultaneous multiple information processing is an important breakthrough.
With society's demands for even faster technology, ultrafast on-chip and chip-to-chip optical data communications are important. It's clear that more efficient methods to transmit vast amounts of data around circuit boards are needed to keep up with these requirements.
Though multiple wavelength sources are already known, the team has developed them on a chip that, in principle, can not only be integrated with silicon computer chips (i.e. CMOS) but can be also fabricated using the same methods. The device, based on high index doped silica glass, is low loss and has a high degree of manufacturability and design flexibility.
This makes it an ideal integrated multiple wavelength source not just to improve computing power, but for a wide range of applications including telecommunications, high-precision broadband sensing and spectroscopy, metrology, molecular fingerprinting, optical clocks, and even attosecond physics. Moss is a researcher with the Institute of Photonics and Optical Science (IPOS) based within the School of Physics, The University of Sydney.
Source: University of Sydney