Micro-Optics for the Next Generation of Data Centers
A research consortium led by RWTH sets out to develop a novel technology for efficient fiber-to-chip coupling. The project receives funding from the German Ministry of Education and Research.
As part of the project "Efficient Fiber PIC Coupling Using Glass Molding at the Wafer Scale," a novel technology for efficient fiber-to-chip coupling is being developed. The aim is to enhance conventional infrastructures for high-bandwidth optical data exchange in data centers.
The project is led by the RWTH Institute of Integrated Photonics IPH. The consortium is investing 3.2 million euros in the project; additional funding in the amount of 1.9 million euros is provided by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. VDI Technologiezentrum GmbH serves as the project executing organization for this project.
So far, the infrastructure for high-bandwidth optical data exchange between individual computing nodes in modern data centers has been largely based on multimodal optical fiber connections. Due to the increasing demand for higher data rates and longer transmission distances, the industry is striving to employ monomodal optical fibers. A major challenge here is to connect the optical fiber to electro optical converters, which are installed at the beginning and end of each optical link. The required micro-optical components are only a few millimeters in size and require extreme manufacturing precision.
The EFFICIENTlight project seeks to develop a precision glass molding technology for the manufacture of such micro-optics. This technology allows high-precision manufacturing of complex forms at the micrometer scale.
To ensure that the solution can also be cost-efficient, the second key research objective is the manufacture of micro-optical components at the wafer level. This allows to manufacture several identical elements in parallel in one molding step and subsequently to separate them, as is customary in the microelectronic wafer manufacturing process.
Consortium of Industrial and Research Partners and SMEs
Involved in the research project is a group of industrial partners including Mellanox Technologies, Ltd. (NASDAQ: MLNX); small and medium enterprises such as GD Optical Competence GmbH, Aixemtec GmbH, son-x GmbH, and aiXscale photonics UG; and research partners including RWTH Aachen University and Fraunhofer IPT.
The complementary competencies of the project partners cover the entire value chain from optical design, manufacturing and deployment to testing in a real-life network environment, which ensures the effective implementation of the project goals. Thus the project contributes to securing technological innovation in Germany.
The complementary competencies of the network partners cover the complete value chain from optical design, manufacturing and assembly to testing in a real network environment and promise an effective implementation of the project goals. Thus the project contributes to securing technological innovation in Germany.