At OFC 2017, the largest global conference and exposition for optical communications, imec presented a 896Gb/s silicon photonics transceiver of a few mm2, targeting future Tb/s optical links. This achievement highlights the scalability of imec’s iSiPP50G silicon photonics platform, paving the way for next-gen short-reach optical interconnects. Driven by exponential growth for interconnect bandwidth in datacenters, single-mode optical transceivers will need to scale to Tb/s capacity and be tightly integrated with network switches.
Silicon Photonics (SiPh) has been identified as a promising technology platform to realise such aggressive bandwidth and integration targets, substantially going beyond 100Gb/s technology available today. In the work presented at OFC, imec combines recently developed 50GHz active optical components with a multi-core fibre interface to showcase a proof-of-concept 896Gb/s spatial-division multiplexing SiPh transceiver.
The bi-directional 896Gb/s silicon photonics transceiver combines dense arrays of 56Gb/s Germanium-Silicon (GeSi) electro-absorption modulators and GeSi waveguide photodetectors with a multi-core fibre interface. It comprises arrays of 16 GeSi Electro-Absorption Modulators (EAM) and 16 GeSi photodetectors (PD), implemented with 100µm channel pitch on a single silicon chip. Both the EAM and PD devices are realised in a single GeSi epitaxial growth step, allowing a simple fabrication scheme.
The chip co-integrates optical power splitters to feed a single laser source to the transmitter channels, and a dense array of fibre grating couplers to interface with a Pitch Reducing Optical Fibre Array (PROFA), provided and packaged by Chiral Photonics.
“We obtained clear and wide open eye diagrams at 56Gb/s Non-Return-to-Zero On-Off Keying (NRZ-OOK) data rate, for all EAM and PD channels tested in a loop-back transmission experiment,” said Joris Van Campenhout, Director of the Optical I/O R&D program at imec. “These results clearly show the potential to realise ultra-compact multi-channel optical transceivers in imec’s 50G silicon photonics platform, targeting future Tb/s-scale interconnects.”
The GeSi EAM and PD components are available for evaluation by companies and academia through imec’s silicon photonics prototyping service and the iSiPP50G Multi-Project Wafer (MPW) service provided by Europractice.
The iSiPP50G platform includes a validated passive and active device library and is supported by photonic design software solutions from multiple EDA vendors, including Synopsys, Luceda Photonics and Lumerical in current or upcoming releases.
The Europractice MPW services target datacom, telecom and sensing industries, photonic ASIC ecosystems and academia in the mentioned fields. In 2017, new MPW runs are available at four fixed tape-in dates.
The first closing date for registering to iSiPP50G technologies is 5th May 2017.