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Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Intel breaks record with optical CMOS device

Silicon-based photo detector beats III-V components

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Researchers from Intel Corp. have demonstrated a photo detector built in CMOS that the company claims is the highest performance optical component of its class to date. The avalanche photodetector (APD) described in a paper in the journal Nature Photonics shows the way to designs that could increase the distance or lower power and cost of optical links, Intel said.

The research effort is one of many small steps forward in silicon photonics in recent years from Intel. The company aims to commercialize some of its work in PC platforms in as little as two to three years, said Mario Paniccia, director of Intel's photonics lab who reported the advance.

Intel's APD achieved a gain-bandwidth product of 340 GHz, higher than any previous device made in any process technology. The metric is a broad measure of the component's signal amplification capability at any given speed.

"This is the first time a silicon photonics device has a better performance than a III-V device, in this case specifically indium phosphide," said Paniccia. "We started with goal of getting [in silicon] 90 percent of the performance of [more] exotic materials with an order of magnitude less cost, but we now have a silicon devoice that is better performance than anything measured in indium phosphide," he added.

APDs are primarily used today in relatively costly modules enabling optical links at 10 Gbits/second over tens of kilometers. The Intel APD could support devices with throughput up to 40 Gbits/s at an order of magnitude less cost, Intel said.

In EE Times

Abstract of the Nature Photonic paper in here, full paper in here

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