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IBM integrated Silicon nano-photonics - Moving from lab to the fab

DCN Corp® - Cross-sectional view of an IBM Si nano-photonics chip combining optical and electrical circuits.  Credit - IBM, USAIBM announced on Monday 10/12/2012 a major advancement in optical communications by claiming to verify a manufacturing environment in the use of light instead of electrical signals to transmit information for future computing.  IBM's breakthrough technology is dubbed "silicon nano-photonics" - enabling the integration of different optical components side-by-side with electrical circuits on a single Silicon (Si) chip, whereby for the first time sub 100 nm semiconductor technology is adapted.

Si nano-photonics take advantage of pulses of light for communication as well as providing a medium for superhighway transfer of large volumes of data to transmit at rapid speeds between computer chips in servers, large data-centers and super computers.  Thus, potentially avoiding the existing limitations with a "bottle-neck" of data traffic and high-cost traditional interconnects.

As stated by Dr John E. Kelly - Senior Vice President and Director of IBM Research - "This technology breakthrough is a result of more than a decade of pioneering research at IBM".  "This allows us to move Si nano-photonics technology into a real-world manufacturing environment that will have impact across a range of applications."

DCN Corp® - Information super highways inside an IBM Si nano-photonics chip.  Credit - IBM, USAIBM has build on its initial Proof-of-Concept (PoC) in 2010, whereby it has solved key challenges with respect to transferring the Si nano-photonics technology into a commercial foundry.  Essentially by adding a few processing modules into a high-performance 90 nm CMOS fabrication-line - enabling for a variety of Si nano-photonics components to be built, such as wavelength vision multiplexers (WDM), modulators, and detectors are integrated side-by-side with a CMOS electrical circuitry.  The single-chip optical communication transceivers can be manufactured in a conventional semiconductor foundry, and, therefore, providing significant cost reductions when compared with traditional micro-fabrication methodologies.

In summary, IBM states that its CMOS nano-photonics technology demonstrates that transceivers can exceed a data rate of 25 Gbps/channel.  Additionally, the technology is capable of feeding a number of parallel optical data streams into a single fiber by employing compact on-chip wavelength-division multiplexing devices.  The distinct capability to multiplex large data streams at high data rates could realistically enable for future scaling of optical communications with the ability to deliver terabytes of data between distant parts of computer systems.  Please Note future details will be announced by Dr Soloman Assefa at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meetings (IEDM) in a talk entitled "A 90 nm CMOS Integrated Nano-Photonics Technology for 25 Gbps WDM Optical Communications Applications".  Original article available here

As with the news article entitled "IBM nano-technique: Scientists peer within nanoparticles to see atomic structure in 3-D" - DCN Corp believes it has derived a 'natural' nano displacement technology via a single/simple dip coat, which excitingly reveals a sub 20-30 nm nano-scale coating.  Perhaps such greater nano-miniaturisation could enable DCN Corp (and its partners) to spearhead the next generation of non-Si semiconductor computing?  If so, and you believe you or your colleagues are interested in making the above a reality - please ensure to contact the company as soon as practicably possible.