Recent developments are making it clear that the increasing need for photonics solutions in 2017 will be met by ramped up innovation in the sector.

Data communications by supercomputing centers are presenting a challenge that’s being met by industry-led photonics research and development.  The European Union’s Horizon 2020 program has granted funding to a new project, dedicated to creating silicon photonics-based transceivers, for example.

The COSMICC project.

The COSMICC project (CMOS solutions for mid-board integrated transceivers, advanced connectivity and low cost) will marry silicon photonics to CMOS electronics fiber connection technology.  This crucial development will represent a quantum leap forward.  Both cost effective and capacity-building, it will expand the capabilities of data-based operations systems.

With the participation of 5 nations represented by 11 partners, COSMICC brings together players from disparate sectors, including academia and electronics giants.  Dr. Ségolène Olivier leads the project, which she says will enhance “an R & D photonic integration platform”, with the goal of being able to “demonstrate the transceivers by 2019”.

Dr. Olivier explains that optical technology in the world of data is already well in place, but that existing transceivers have neither the capacity or the cost advantages COSMICC hopes to be able to offer the next generation of high capacity devices.  These will be capable of rapid aggregation of data.

Currently, optical technology’s cost to consumption ratio is $20US/Gbit/s, at 35pJ/bit.  COSMICC hopes to reduce that to $0.16, at only 2pJ/bit – an incredible reduction in both cost and consumption, representing an enormous change.

Reduced power consumption.

But COSMICC’s work doesn’t stop with cost/consumption in terms of data.  It also seeks to address the rising challenges of power consumption restrictions.  With the next generation looming, answering the challenges of reduced power consumption will effectively ensure the project’s success.

Optical modulators are one of photonics’ most consumptive components.  Dr. Olivier’s contention is that these will need to be smaller to reduce consumption.  This is key to the work of the project and its ultimate application.

The role of silicon nitrate.

Dr. Olivier also points out that temperature must be considered, with COSMICC working to address the requirement for temperature resistant parts.  Introducing a device to control temperature within devices would be cost prohibitive.  She prefers to “enhance existing technology by introducing silicon nitrate”.  This is an entirely new approach to the problem, with silicon nitrate being 10 times less sensitive to temperature fluctuations than raw silicon.

While the goals of this exciting project sound ambitious (and by Dr. Olivier’s own admission, they are), a test model is slated for October, 2017.  COSMICC’s role is clearly central to the increasing need for photonics in 2017.  The success of this project is something all of us in the industry are watching with great interest.

Vitex provides high performance photonic solutions for fiber optic communications, working with partners in a variety of industries.  We connect you at light speed, with fiber optic innovation that brings your operation the extraordinary.  Contact us to find out more.  We’re part of the photonics revolution.

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