Short, on-Chip Light Pulses Will Enable Ultrafast Data Transfer Within Computers

Electrical engineers generated short, powerful light pulses on a chip — an important step toward the optical interconnects that will likely replace the copper wires that carry information between chips within today’s computers. University of California, San Diego electrical engineers recently developed the first ultra compact, low power pulse compressor on a silicon chip to be described in the scientific literature.

Details appeared online in the journal Nature Communications on November 16.

This miniaturized short pulse generator eliminates a roadblock on the way to optical interconnects for use in PCs, data centers, imaging applications and beyond. These optical interconnects, which will aggregate slower data channels with pulse compression, will have far higher data rates and generate less heat than the copper wires they will replace. Such aggregation devices will be critical for future optical connections within and between high speed digital electronic processors in future digital information systems.

“Our pulse compressor is implemented on a chip, so we can easily integrate it with computer processors,” said Dawn Tan, the Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering who led development of the pulse compressor. Continue reading …

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