SEPTEMBER 20, 2007 -- The Institute of Microelectronics (IME), a member of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), has inked an agreement with Japan's Fujikura Ltd. (search for Fujikura) to collaborate on a research and development project aimed at stabilizing optical signals in high-speed optical networks. This partnership will result in the commercialization of a chromatic dispersion compensator (CDC) device targeted at the optical communications market in Japan.
IME and Fujikura say they will jointly develop a CDC device using a novel waveguide grating structure to compensate for chromatic dispersion in optical signals, which causes data distortion over long distances in high-speed telecommunication networks. In optical fibers, waveforms or light signals broaden over long distances, making the signals difficult to interpret by the receiver. Chromatic dispersion (search for Chromatic dispersion) in particular poses a major challenge as the effects increase non-linearly at the rate of the square of the increased speed of the transmission. The companies say their jointly developed CDC device enables smooth, continuously adjustable tuning of the chromatic dispersion at the optical receiver.
For its part, Fujikura says it will take charge of the design of novel optical devices. The device fabrication and wafer dicing will be carried out at IME's advanced 200-mm silicon wafer processing and packaging facility, where deep ultraviolet lithography will be used to produce the photonic crystal structures for the CDC devices. The fabrication process uses silicon-on-insulator wafers and is fully CMOS-compatible, paving the way for Fujikura to offer a "plug and play" device while ensuring low cost and high yield in its production, say company representatives.
The market for such optical components is emerging, and demand is expected to accelerate quickly as the transmission rates increase. In addition, the mandatory and higher usage of the chromatic dispersion compensator in network systems that deploy DWDM is expected to fuel the market growth of this device. According to industry analysts, the global demand for CDC devices is estimated to grow at an annual rate of 120%.
"There is strong indication of spending growth in the optical communications industry, with a distinct shift from discrete optical components to more CMOS-based integrated platforms," notes Professor Kwong Dim-Lee, executive director of IME. "IME's partnership with Fujikura is certainly a step in the right direction in using CMOS photonics technology to make low-cost, high-speed, high-quality optical communications a reality."
IME and Fujikura have earlier signed a master collaboration agreement, which will end in December 2008. As the global demand for optical devices grows, more research partnerships are expected between the two parties in future.