Connecting Chips with Optical Waveguides
As fancy and fast as electronics may be now, they will eventually see a replacement, which in one form other another utilizes light. The photons of light can be made more efficiently than an electronic signal and travel much faster, but integrating photonics with semiconductor technology is proving to be difficult. Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology however have overcome one of the challenges and succeeded in reaching terabit per second speeds in early experiments.
For photonics to function properly, the involved components must be perfectly aligned, which is a difficult task at such a small size. To get around this, the researchers approached the problem from the opposite direction. Instead of trying to align the semiconductor chips with a waveguide, they placed the chips and then connected them with a precisely engineered waveguide. Creating the polymer-based waveguide involved using a special technique with a femtosecond laser to shape the three dimensional form, but in the end the two chips were successfully connected.
When the researchers tested the connection with a frequency already employed for telecommunications they were able to surpass 5 terabits per second early on. With more work to improve the design, we may see even higher speeds and ultimately commercial devices use this technology.