Dow Corning and IBM have developed a new type of polymer material capable of transmitting photonic signals at high speed.
The researchers have fabricated thin sheets into flexible optical waveguides. The material is stable at extreme operating conditions including 85 percent humidity and 85°C.
In a presentation at the Photonics West conference in San Francisco, Brandon Swatowski, application engineer for Dow Corning Electronics Solutions, reported that fabrication of full waveguide builds can be completed in less than 45 minutes, and enable a high degree of process flexibility. Silicone polymer material, which is dispensed as a liquid, processes more quickly than competitive waveguide materials such as glass and does not require a controlled atmosphere chamber.
"Polymer waveguides provide an integrated means to route optical signals similar to how copper lines route electrical signals," explains Dr. Bert Jan Offrein, manager of the Photonics Research Group at IBM Research. "Our design is highly flexible, resistant to high temperatures and has strong adhesion properties – these waveguides were designed with no compromises."
"Dow Corning’s breakthrough polymer waveguide silicone has positioned us at the forefront of a new era in robust, data-rich computing, especially as we continue to collaborate with outstanding industry leaders like IBM," said Eric Peeters, vice president, Dow Corning Electronic Solutions. "Optical waveguides made from Dow Corning's silicone polymer technology offer customers revolutionary new options for transmitting data substantially faster, and with lower heat and energy consumption. We are confident that silicone-based board-level interconnects will quickly supersede conventional electronic signal distribution to deliver the amazing speeds needed for tomorrow’s supercomputers."