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Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

Major Step Towards Low-Power All-Optical Switching For Optical Communications

A key breakthrough involving optical random access memory has been achieved by Interuniversity Microelectronics Center (IMEC) and Ghent University. Researchers have created a super-fast and small optical random access memory on a silicon chip that consumes a record low amount of power. The development means the switching and routing of data in optical fiber networks or optical interconnect systems would not require any conversion from the optical to the electrical domain. As a result, fiber-optic communication systems would have completely optical packet switching as well as lower power consumption.

The team used ultra-compact micro-disk lasers, switching the laser light between a clockwise and counterclockwise direction via short optical pulses. Implemented in indium phosphide membranes, the lasers were integrated onto passive silicon waveguide circuits to optically interconnect different memory cells using silicon wires.

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