Intel Claims Significant Breakthrough in Silicon Photonics Development
Intel Labs researchers say they have achieved an important new step in developing silicon photonics, the ability to transmit data using light. A paper published in Nature Photonics details Intel researchers' efforts to develop a silicon-based avalanche photodetector, or APD, a sensor that detects and amplifies light signals. Intel says this type of avalanche photodetector offers greater bandwidth and amplification abilities than conventional photodetectors. At the same time, Intel is looking for less expensive ways to build these types of photodetectors.Researchers with Intel Labs are publishing a paper that looks to bring the company closer to developing silicon photonics-the ability to transit data through light pulses-for viable commercial uses. The research paper, which is being published in the Dec. 7 edition of the scientific journal Nature Photonics, describes efforts by Intel engineers to build a silicon-based APD (avalanche photodetector) at a lower cost and that gives better overall performance than conventional photodetectors made of different materials.
The goal of photonics is to replace more conventional electrical interconnects that use copper wiring with on-chip components that use light to transmit data. In a world where companies such as Intel, Advanced Micro Devices and IBM are increasing the number of processing cores that can fit within an CPU, photonics is seen as a way to allow those developments to continue while simultaneously speeding up the vital connections that move data in and out of processors that are close together or even between servers that are separated from each other.