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AIT participates in EU-funded project that aspires to revolutionize silicon lasers used in datacenter interconnects

28 March 2016

On February 1st 2016, the EU-funded research project "Directly Modulated Lasers on Silicon" (DIMENSION) was launched. AIT participates in this project via its "High-speed Networks and Optical Communications" (NOC) research group. The project is coordinated by the Technical University of Dresden (Germany) and includes also as partners: IBM (Switzerland), ADVA (Germany), Optocap (UK) and IHP (Germany).

DIMENSIONThe project focuses on the realization of low-cost silicon-based laser transmitters used for high-speed optical interconnections within large-scale Data Centers (DC) and High Performance Computing (HPC) systems. Conventional CMOS-based electronic interconnects can no longer keep up with the relevant future interconnect requirements within DCs and/or HPCs. Optical interconnects based on advanced photonic technologies promise to satisfy the growing needs of DCs and HPCs, but their relative high fabrication cost is setting a barrier to their widespread market introduction in the short term. The long-discussed silicon-photonics platform is theoretically perfectly suited for large-scale monolithic photonic-electronic integration, using mature high-yield CMOS processing, to implement efficient  low-cost optical interconnects. Almost all of the optical interconnect components can be integrated on a silicon chip. However optical laser sources are still technically challenging to be realized on silicon. The DIMENSION project proposes a new approach to solve this last open issue in silicon photonics. 

DIMENSION establishes a novel electro-optical integration platform, extending the silicon (Bi)CMOS and silicon photonics platforms with III-V photonic functionality to implement lasers on silicon with a fully CMOS compatible process. If the goals of the project will be indeed realized during its planned 4 years duration, then the outcome will be a breakthrough in the production of low-cost optical interconnects based on silicon photonics.

AIT’s primary contribution in the DIMENSION project, as a systems expert partner, is to set the optical interconnect transceiver specifications and requirements, and to perform techno-economic and power consumption analysis in order to demonstrate the benefits of the DIMENSION approach compared to other alternatives.

The DIMENSION project is funded under the Photonics21 Public Private Partnership of EU through the research and innovation program "Horizon 2020".

For more information about the DIMENSION project and the role of AIT, interested people may get in touch with the AIT NOC group leader Dr. Ioannis Tomkos (itom@ait.gr) or the AIT DIMENSION project manager Dr. Jose Manuel Rivas Moscoso (jmrivas@ait.gr).

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