Record Breaking Silicon Photo-Detector from Intel

December 8, 2008

(ChattahBox) — Intel Corp. has claimed a significant breakthrough in Silicon Photonics development by achieving the ability to transmit data through light. Intel has a record breaking silicon-based “Avalanche Photodetector” with a gain-bandwidth product of 340GHz. It can detect light and additionally amplify signals by multiplying electrons. This is the first time a silicon photonic device beats its equivalent made from traditional optoelectronic materials. It is one of the major breakthroughs that can reduce power requirements and extend operating distances.

Currently, one Avalanche photodetector cost around $200 to $300 apiece and is used in bulky optical and networking equipments. If these detectors can be made from Silicon then they would not only offer higher bandwidth but a much lower cost as each piece could cost only $10 apiece.

The new product will take time to appear in products on the market as researchers are still working on reducing dark current. Dark current refers to stray current leaking from a device when it is not absorbing photons. The information regarding Avalanche Photo-Detectors or ADP from Intel Researchers was published in Nature Photonics. Intel researchers have been working for a long time to bring the company closer to developing silicon photonics so that data can be transmitted through light pulses and make the products viable for commercial use. It would reduce or replace conventional means to data transmission via copper wires or on-chip components that use light to transmit data.

These photo-detectors are more sensitive which can further reduce the price of fiber optic communication. The increased sensitivity also enables to transmit data over longer distances on the same lower power lasers.


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