Pulsed laser will speed up information highway

Tuesday, 01 June, 2010

Silicon chips may soon be able to transmit and process information at extremely high speeds using light, with help from a University of Sydney invention, a new pulsed laser that allows light to be generated on a computer chip.

Associate Professor David Moss, a senior researcher with the university’s Institute of Photonics and Optical Science (IPOS), leads an international team which has developed the laser.

Moss said the laser produces ultrashort light pulses at record speeds to process and transmit information, and in doing so will dramatically speed up computing if implemented on a large scale.

“The on-chip pulsed light source is key to enabling ultrahigh-speed signal processing and transmission of data either on-chip or between chips,” he said.

“This technology can ultimately provide consumers with cheaper and faster computers.

“Currently, information on a chip is shuffled around using electronic signals over copper wires, or interconnects. We know that metal is prone to ‘choking’ on the bandwidth bottleneck.

“Using light for ultrahigh-speed information processing and transmission on a silicon chip is an important breakthrough. The ever-growing demand for even faster technology means ultrafast on-chip and chip-to-chip optical data communications are important.

“It’s clear that more efficient methods to transmit vast amounts of data around circuit boards are needed to not only keep up with but also go beyond, which primarily is what this research is about.”

Associate Professor Moss’s paper 'Subpicosecond 200GHz soliton laser based on a C-MOS compatible integrated microring resonator' was presented as a prestigious post-deadline paper at the IEEE/OSA Conference for Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO), in San Jose, California, on 20 May.

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