Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Intel Develops Silicon Laser

Researchers at Intel's Photonics Technology Laboratory have developed a silicon-based continuous laser beam with potential applications in optical computing, communications and medicine. Intel's silicon Raman laser would operate at longer wavelengths than existing diode lasers. More research is needed before the device could be commercialized. A paper on the breakthrough is published online in the journal Nature.

  • In February 2004, Intel announced that it had succeeded in using silicon manufacturing processes to create a novel "transistor-like" device that can encode data onto a light beam.
    Performance of the silicon-based optical modulator exceeds 1 GHz and the Intel researchers believe they can the scale the technology up to 10 GHz or faster in the future. To achieve the result, a beam of light is split into two beams as it passes through the silicon. Then, a novel transistor-like device is used to hit one beam with an electric charge, inducing a "phase shift." When the two beams of light are re-combined the phase shift induced between the two arms makes the light exiting the chip go on and off at over 1 GHz. The on and off pattern of light can be translated into the 1's and 0's needed to transmit data. "This is a significant step toward building optical devices that move data around inside a computer at the speed of light," said Patrick Gelsinger, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Intel.

See also