New fiber grating laser technology at ECOC 2000

By KATHLEEN RICHARDS

TRENDS

AIFOtec Fiberoptics, a startup company based in Munich, Germany, will introduce a fiber grating laser technology at the European Conference of Optical Communications (ECOC) held this month in Munich.

Developed by a research team that includes former members of the German Telecom Research Group, this fiber laser grating (FGL) technology offers 2.5-Gbit/sec performance that is comparable to that of a distributed-feedback (DFB) laser, offering stable, higher yield and low chirp, at a lower cost, according to the company. The technology was developed for use in metropolitan-area-network applications. The initial focus is on transmission distances below 100 km, although the development plan is to eventually reach distances of 200 to 300 km. Later on, an uncooled version will be developed for application at less than 2.5 Gbit/sec.

The FGL uses a unique low-cost laser chip structure. The low cost is achieved in part because the technology consists of a Fabry-Perot chip and a fiber Bragg grating, which is produced in high volume; the grating is on the fiber, instead of within the laser chip. The distance between the chip facet and the fiber grating (the resonator length) is extremely constant. This is achieved by a special mounting technique on a single substrate and temperature stabilization.

"Our aim is for a non-hermetically sealed package, which is another cost savings point," says Thomas Sommer, product marketing engineer at AIFOtec. "For the time being, we will use a package that is pin-compatible to a standard 14-pin butterfly package."

This laser technology has strong potential for integration with other components, such as arrayed waveguide gratings, due to its simple structure, small size, and planned non-hermetic sealing, notes Sommer. Development is currently in the engineering sampling stage. Production is planned for the first quarter of 2001.

Formerly a joint venture between the AMS Group (now called EGORA Holding) in Munich and Infineon Technologies (Berlin), AIFOtec was formed last year. The company has 25 employees and expects to increase that number to 50 by the end of this year. In addition to component development, AIFOtec will focus on manufacturing, integration, and packaging for other component suppliers. To this end, the company started to produce butterfly lasers this summer with an output of about 200 pieces per week.

The goal is to expand production to 1,000 pieces per week by the end of the year. In June, Claus-George Müller, co-founder of ADVA Optical Networking, another company under the EGORA Holding umbrella, left ADVA to become chief executive officer of AIFOtec. AIFOtec will manufacture components for ADVA.

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