IQE VCSEL products enable future internet growth with record power efficiencies

05 February 2014

Cardiff, UK. 5 February 2014: IQE plc (AIM: IQE; “IQE”, “the Group”) announces that its leading edge, laser epiwafer technology has been employed to develop ultra-high energy efficiency optical interconnects up to elevated temperatures of 85 °C, as reported in two technical papers presented today at Photonics West by Technische Universität (TU) Berlin.

Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser (VCSEL) wafers, manufactured at IQE’s Cardiff facility were used by researchers at TU-Berlin to produce high-performance communications lasers that achieved error-free operation at speeds up to 40Gb/s with record low energy dissipation (below 100fJ/bit). The 980nm VCSELs also demonstrated extreme temperature stability during high-speed operation up to 85°C.

It is widely recognised that the expanding growth in data communications is rapidly approaching a serious bottleneck as demand for higher performance battles with the need to reduce power consumption, particularly in increasingly large data centres.

This is driving the move from copper cables to optical fibre communications, which is essential in enabling the transmission of the high data volumes demanded from cloud computing, big data and the internet of things. Furthermore, the efficiencies achieved with VCSELs is a critical factor in reducing the overall energy consumption of optical interconnects used in data centres.

IQE President and CEO, Dr. Drew Nelson, commented:

"Today's energy hungry data centres are increasingly co-located alongside major industrial power plants. Data volumes are forecast to continue growing and with more than twenty billion devices being interconnected by 2020, the energy demand is rapidly becoming unsustainable. Data centres are already early adopters of VCSEL technology to help reduce energy demand and are likely to continue to drive the trend for optical communications for industrial and commercial applications."

Professor Dieter Bimberg, Head of the Centre of NanoPhotonics at TU-Berlin, said:

“Error-free operation of 850-nm VCSELs at 25 Gb/s was achieved with record-low dissipated energy of 56fJ/bit. This is the lowest reported value of dissipated energy at error-free operation for any semiconductor laser diode at any wavelength or bit rate. This result is achieved at a low current density of 10kA/cm2, demonstrating the suitability of our devices for application in reliable and sustainable commercial optical interconnects. At 40Gb/s the TU-Berlin/IQE VCSELs dissipate only 108 fJ per transmitted bit, which is at least four times less than any other published result for semiconductor laser diodes”

Further work was also presented at Photonics West which reported on high efficiency operation of IQE’s VCSEL materials carried out by TU-Berlin in collaboration with the Photonics Modelling Group at the Institute of Physics, Technical University of Lodz, Poland.

The presented papers resulted in Professor Dieter Bimberg’s team of 4 PhD candidates and guest Professor Jim Lott at TU-Berlin being presented with the SPIE Green Photonics Award for Communications 2014, presented to the PhD candidate Philip Moser. It is the second time since 2012 that the team received this prestigious award.


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