IBM demonstrates silicon photonics platform

IBM has announced its silicon photonics efforts have reached a new milestone with the demonstration of an optical engine for 4x25-Gbps optical interconnect for applications up to 2 km. An IBM source says the company can now support reference design kits (RDKs) and has partners interested in leveraging its silicon photonics platform for their own purposes.

IBM has announced its silicon photonics efforts have reached a new milestone with the demonstration of an optical engine for 4x25-Gbps optical interconnect for applications up to 2 km. An IBM source says the company can now support reference design kits (RDKs) and has partners interested in leveraging its silicon photonics platform for their own purposes.

IBM revealed at the Optical Society of America's Executive Forum in March 2014 that it could support process design kits (PDKs) and was interested in licensing its technology to other companies (see "IBM discusses silicon photonics commercialization strategy"). Will Green, manager, Silicon Nanophotonics Group at IBM, says the company has no plans to get into the optical transceiver business, although it does plan to use its silicon photonics technology to support I/O requirements on some of its systems. However, he said the company has several partners who are interested in leveraging IBM's IP for optical modules.

The chip IBM has demonstrated contains all of the necessary functions for transmit and receive of the four 25-Gbps wavelengths, except the laser. Green declined to discuss how the laser would be integrated with the silicon photonics chip. However, he did say that the chip was engineered to support passive alignment of a singlemode fiber via a V-groove structure. He also said that IBM's design supports deposition via CMOS processes of a germanium layer to support the photodetector.

The chip is a collaboration among IBM engineers in New York and Zurich, as well as within the IBM Systems Group.

Green says that his group is completing IBM Technology Qualification procedures that would certify that the company's silicon photonics efforts are ready for commercial manufacturing and production. He expects to achieve this milestone sometime in the second half of 2016.

In addition to development of 100 Gigabit Ethernet optical modules, Green says he expects IBM's technology to find use in antenna backhaul and onboard optics applications.

For more information on optical components and suppliers, visit the Lightwave Buyer's Guide.

More in Components