GigOptix achieves first sales of polymer-based optical modulators

JULY 2, 2009 -- The company has delivered what it believes to be the world's first engineering prototypes of 20G, 40G, and 100G polymer Mach-Zehnder modulators.

JULY 2, 2009 -- GigOptix Inc. (search Lightwave for GigOptix) has announced the first sales of its electro-optic (EO) polymer-based Mach-Zehnder modulators (MZMs). The company has delivered what it believes to be the world's first engineering prototypes of 20G, 40G, and 100G polymer MZMs to customers working in the fields of communications, defense, and high-speed RF.

"We are delighted to see our fundamental materials research turning into real products with this release of our electro-optic polymer modulators to customers," says Raluca Dinu, vice president and general manager of GigOptix-Bothell business unit. "Since merging with GigOptix, the team is more market focused and we have been able to accelerate our LX EO polymer MZM product development by tapping in to the extensive commercial experience of the GigOptix team. Our technology is no longer in the experimental phase; now we are focusing on optimizing the manufacturing process for volume production and working with customers to generate differentiated new products for a broad range of market applications."

Company advisory board member Alan Willner, who is a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Southern California (and also a member of the Lightwave editorial advisory board), is among the first customers to receive the 100-Gbps MZM LX8900. "GigOptix appears to have made significant advances in the field of ultrahigh-bandwidth optical devices which are not possible with other current technologies. My team and I are very excited to receive one of the first 100-Gbps EO polymer modulators from GigOptix," he says. "The huge bandwidth of these devices has the potential to enable next-generation terabit communication systems and ultrahigh-frequency RF communication systems. We are looking forward to investigating the operation of this technology and cooperating with GigOptix to map out its performance over the coming months."

The polymer technology is said to offer advantages over existing crystalline semiconductor technologies, including simpler manufacturing, larger bandwidth, smaller form factor, lower weight, lower drive voltages, and immunity to radiation (important for defense and aerospace markets). EO polymer is a thin-film spin-on technology whose manufacture is similar to semiconductor processing such as CMOS. This similarity may not only support higher levels of integration that can enable photonic integrated devices for telecom applications but may also hold the potential to tackle the intrachip communication bottleneck now being seen as the next challenge in next-generation many-core microprocessors. On-chip optical interconnects are seen by many in the industry as the only means of routing signals across next-generation CMOS devices.

GigOptix expects its first volume product to be a 40G modulator for the telecom market. Ovum's (search Lightwave for Ovum) most recent Optical Component Forecast reports that 40G modulators will be the fastest-growing segment of the telecom modulator market, growing at a 42% CAGR from $13 million in 2009 to $105 million in 2014.

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