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Researchers develop low-cost silicon photonics technique for super-fast data transfer

By Park Sae-jin Posted : December 21, 2022, 10:54 Updated : December 21, 2022, 10:54

[Courtesy of ETRI]

SEOUL -- South Korean researchers have developed a silicon photonics chip and modules for optical semiconductors. The chip that uses infrared light signals to send and receive data at the lightning speed of 100 gigabits per second can be applied to many sectors including optical communications, optical routers and processors, and long-range telecommunications.
 
For ordinary communication processing equipment, silicon chips that receive and send electrical signals through metallic cables are used. Such chips have a data transfer speed of up to about 50 gigabits per second and the transfer speed is relatively short to tens of centimeters per channel because of limitations in bandwidths and power consumption.
 
Optical communication is used in places that require low-latency, super-fast data transfers such as inter-continental submarine internet lines or smart factories that need to process a vast amount of data in a blink of an eye. Ordinary optical semiconductor systems are bulky in size due to the equipment consisting of various optical components.
 
The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) said that its research team developed a silicon photonics chip and modules to enable the data transmission of 100 gigabits per second for up to two kilometers (1.2 miles) in range. The optical receiver chip's size is 2.3mm x 7.3mm and the transmitter chip is 2.9mm x3.4mm, about 20 percent of conventional optical silicon chip systems.
 
Using the new silicon photonics semiconductor, ETRI collaborated with OE Solutions, a domestic optical transmission device maker, to develop an optical transceiver module capable of data transfer of 100 gigabits per second to up to two kilometers. The institute said that the module would have the half price of conventional models and can transfer data at a speed of 200 gigabits per second.
 

"This technology is a core technology for high-capacity optical communications. We will become a key player in the era of terabyte-class data transfer by developing optical technologies for various sectors including cloud, AI, and hyper-reality media service," ETRI researcher Kim Sun-mi said in a statement on December 21. 

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