System architects in the communications and computing industries have been waiting for the arrival of cost effective fiber optic links to relieve the copper BW*distance constraint for intra and short reach inter-system connections. Parallel optics has been targeted at this application space for several years, but up until the current generation of systems, these applications largely remained copper. The current change-over in interconnect media is partially due to the engineering challenge in meeting performance requirements with electrical interconnects as well as the progress in parallel fiber optic components. Gore has been investigating aggressively in the research and development of the technologies required for producing high bandwidth, reliable, and cost effective parallel fiber optic links. The first commercialization of this effort will be the nLIGHTEN parallel optical modules. This paper details the design, fabrication, and operation of this high performance, short haul communication system.
Vertical cavity surface emitting lasers (VCSELs) operating near 1310 or 1550 nm have been the subject of intensive research by multiple groups for several years. In the past year at Gore, we have demonstrated the first 1300 nm VCSELs which operate with useful power, high modulation rate, and low voltage over the commercial temperature range of 0 - 70 degree(s)C. These results have been achieved using a new structure in which an 850 nm VCSEL optical pump is integrated with the 1300 nm VCSEL. Electrical drive is applied to the 850 nm pump, and 1300 nm light is emitted from the integrated structure. This approach has resulted in over a milliwatt of single transverse mode power at room temperature, and several hundred microwatts of single transverse mode power at 70 degree(s)C. In addition, these devices demonstrate multi-gigabit modulation and excellent coupling efficiency to single-mode fiber.
Applications for serial and parallel fiber optic data links are reviewed along with the barriers to widespread commercial adoption. An alternative migration path from copper to optical media, enabled by VCSEL technology, is investigated including initial performance results.