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9 September 2013

BinOptics offers optical engine to keep “Moore's Law” intact for computing evolution

Semiconductor laser developer BinOptics Corp, Ithaca, NY, USA, has incorporated its patented Etched Facet Technology (EFT) into a variety of silicon photonic applications. The company says creating indium phosphide-based lasers and other photonic components using EFT, instead of by the conventional cleaving process, improves performance while maintaining affordable manufacturing costs. 

The company believes that silicon photonics is a key technology for “keeping Moore's Law intact” for computing applications as the industry moves towards exaflop computing (1018 operations per second). Similarly, recent advances in datacom infrastructure have further necessitated cost-effective, yet highly reliable lasers to support next-gen, high-speed information exchange.

An efficient, reliable, and non-hermetic photonic source is required to provide infrared radiation to silicon photonics circuits. BinOptics has fabricated semiconductor lasers and other photonic elements on InP that meet these specific requirements.
Alex Behfar, CEO of BinOptics, commented, "Our customers have long experienced the benefits of our EFT produced lasers, but only recently have they been exploring the potential of our EFT offerings in silicon photonics. Many industry experts expect chip-to-chip and on-chip photonics to be the most significant technology impacting the future of computing." 

Challenges with reproduction, flexibility, integration, and performance using conventional cleaving processes drive up cost and threaten the sustainability of continuous improvement, says Behfar. But the BinOptics EFT approach can eliminates these barriers.

EFT solutions

  • Reproducibility and Flexibility: EFT allows facets to be defined through high precision photolithography rather than “imprecise” cleaving, leading to greater uniformity and yield, and structures that are impossible to achieve by conventional techniques. Anti-reflection geometries can be used in place of expensive coatings.
  • High Yield: Facet cleaving and bar testing is often one of the most costly operations in other factories. BinOptics says its lasers are fully fabricated with EFT and automatically tested on the wafer before separation into individual chips.
  • Surface Emission: BinOptics' technology platform enables etching of angled facets that allow the light from a laser to emerge perpendicular, or at an angle off from perpendicular, to the surface of the InP chip – helpful with coupling to grating couplers on silicon photonic chips, for example.
  • Performance and Reliability: Devices made using EFT with proprietary passivation technology are exceptionally robust with respect to temperature and humidity, eliminating the need for costly hermetic packages.

Prof. Jonathan Klamkin, Director of the Integrated Photonics Laboratory at Boston University, MA, USA, commented, "Active alignment of a light source to the silicon photonics chip is a costly process, requiring extremely expensive equipment. With EFT, BinOptics has found a way to reap the cost and efficiency benefits of passive alignment without sacrificing the accuracy associated with real-time active alignment." 

And Dr. Mehdi Asghari, CTO, of Kotura, added, "We needed an experienced but innovative InP partner who could provide a reliable, easy-to-integrate, non-hermetic light source for our silicon photonics platform. BinOptics provided us with the fastest path to market for our new 100 Gbps optical engine."

Tags: BinOptics


By Matthew Peach, Contributing Editor

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