Take a reading

Nov 1st, 2001

Test and measurement equipment may not be the most glamorous category of technologies, but it has a fundamental importance that most engineers understand. If you don't know where you are—that is, knowing with great accuracy how your components perform—then you can't go where you want to be—that is, creating products that support a high-performance optical network.

This importance is made clear by Eugene Rudkevich at Taliescent and Feenix Pan at the University of Arizona, whose article on reference devices for PDL measurements focuses on the need for accurate, repeatable, reproducible, and traceable parameter measurements of the network physical layer. Furthermore, fast, accurate measurements are essential to characterize devices during manufacture. This point is supported by an article from Philip Santangelo and his colleagues at Micron Optics, who propose a means of speeding swept-wavelength measurements of components and modules.

The components and modules to be tested are not stationary targets. Rather, they are evolving in some interesting directions that integrate multiple devices onto a single platform. Bob Shine and his colleagues at Wavesplitter Technologies believe that hybrid integration of components is a practical means of controlling cost and providing functionality. It also minimizes the overall testing requirements while increasing yield. The exact nature of this integration is an open question, as posed by Lawrence Gasman at Communications Industry Researchers. He reviews the options for monolithic integration, including material systems based on gallium arsenide, polymers, lithium niobate, and indium phosphide, and says the market for such integrated devices should grow from a mere $13.4 million in 2001 to $2.6 billion in 2005.

Anticipated market growth is something we're all watching with great interest as the industry struggles through a trough. It's good to remember that, according to KMI, the downturn meant the global DWDM market only dropped from $8.3 billion in 2000 to $7.1 billion in 2001—still considerably higher than the $4.1 billion seen in 1999. And KMI predicts growth should resume rising strongly, with a growth rate of 39% from 2001 to 2005, for an estimated $26.6 billion market.

W. Conard Holton
Associate Publisher/Editor in Chief

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