25 Sep 2019
PEARLS consortium is using quantum dot technology to integrate lasers onto electro-photonic silicon chips.Adva, based in Munich, Germany, is leading a three-year initiative to create what it calls “the industry’s most advanced optical transceiver chiplets.” The chiplets will be key to tackling urgent bandwidth needs by enhancing density, flexibility and efficiency in data center interconnect networks.
The project, entitled Photonic Embedding of Active Region Laser chips in Silicon (“PEARLS”), aims to integrate quantum-dot lasers onto silicon-based electro-photonic integrated circuits (ePICs).
By combining silicon photonics, BiCMOS electronics and lasers on a single chip, the size and cost of optical transceivers can be dramatically reduced, says Adva.
The three-year project involves a consortium comprising Adva, FormFactor, Fraunhofer IZM, IHP Solutions, Sicoya, Technion and the University of Kassel.
“With this project we’re taking integration and compact design to new levels. By squeezing more technology onto a single chip than ever before, we’re creating a platform for miniaturized optical transceivers able to deliver the space and bandwidth density needed for tomorrow’s DCI networks”.
New levels of integration
“With this project we’re taking integration and compact design to new levels. By squeezing more technology onto a single chip than ever before, we’re creating a platform for miniaturized optical transceivers able to deliver the space and bandwidth density needed for tomorrow’s DCI networks,” said Jörg-Peter Elbers, SVP, advanced technology, at Adva.
“PEARLS not only paves the way for a new generation of intra-data center transceivers, but also facilitates more compact and cost-effective integrated coherent transmitter-receiver optical sub-assemblies for inter-data center applications.”
PEARLS is funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). Its multi-disciplinary engineering team is aiming to take a silicon-based electro-photonic chip platform – which offers monolithic integration of electronics and photonics as already proven in the Adva-led SPEED project – and extend it to incorporate a third key element.
Save space, cut energy use
Nanotechnology lasers will be added to the chip, saving space and reducing energy consumption compared to off-chip approaches. Able to withstand extreme temperatures, they facilitate wafer-scale integration without the need for a thermo-electric cooler or a hermetic package.
Bernd Tillack, managing director, at IHP commented, “Within this project, IHP will develop the technology platform. Together we’re breaking new ground and laying the foundations for the next generation of low-energy, space-efficient optical transceivers."
He added, “The PEARLS project will pave the way for optical transceiver chiplets – modular transceiver chips with an unprecedented level of optical and electronic integration. Built on top of a standard BiCMOS process flow, the new technology will also be a major step forward for sustainable DCI networking.”
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