Luxtera integrates photonics interfaces into silicon chips

Carlsbad (CA) - Luxtera claims to have designed the world's first 10Gbit CMOS photonics platform. The technology will allow building photonic interfaces into mass-produced silicon chips for an optical modulation speed of 10 Gbit per second.

Photonics has been a research opportunity discussed openly for several years, but Luxtera appears to have reached one of the first breakthroughs for mass-producing the technology.

According to an announcement from the fabless semiconductor company, its technology enables photonic-based interfaces to be integrated high-speed optical fiber interfaces in silicon devices produced in an industry-standard CMOS fabrication process. As a result, Luxtera believes computer and communication OEMs can use the performance benefits of optical-fiber communications while reducing the cost of optical components by using common silicon material.

Luxtera said its CMOS photonics chips deliver an optical modulation speed of 10 Gbit per second and are built in the same CMOS process that Freescale Semiconductor uses for the mass production of microprocessors.

Other companies involved in silicon photonics include Intel that recently announced a technology that enables a laser to efficiently move through silicon material. Intel called its "breakthrough" research the "first continuous silicon laser" which allows amplifying photons within silicon material to create a laser output beam. Silicon long was considered to be unsuited for optical applications due to its nature to create strong electromagnetic interference and absorb most of the source light.

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