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Optical Router Chip Is 100 Times Faster

Photonics.com
Jul 2011
VALENCIA, Spain, July 20, 2011 — An optical router chip that operates up to 100 times faster than those currently available is being called a scientific milestone in the field of optical communications by its international team of developers.

The first monolithically integrated router, the chip directly routs optical packets and incorporates the basic features in an area about 100,000 times smaller (4.8 x 1.5 mm) than other subsystems.


ITEAM researchers. (Image: Polytechnic University of Valencia)

The core of current telecommunications optical fiber networks works by establishing connections or circuits that are very similar to those established when making a telephone call. These connections reserve network resources even when no information is conveyed, making them inefficient.

The researchers, from ITEAM Institute at Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), in collaboration with experts from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands and McGill University in Montreal, found that, by chopping information into smaller pieces or packets, each piece/packet could follow a different path from source to destination to optimize the use of available resources. Then, for this solution to work, the packets would have to be routed so that, regardless of the path that each followed they all would reach their destination in the proper order.

The key to an efficient routing of these packets lies in the information on their destination, or label, which is contained in the packets, and which must be processed in the intermediate nodes of the network. Currently, doing so requires converting optical information to an electrical format, which involves two major problems: All information must be converted whether or not it is needed, and electrical processing capacity is limited in speed. The new optical router chip solves these problems.

The capacities generated at UPV for the production of this and other integrated optical circuits have been transferred to VLC Photonics SL, a recently created UPV spinoff.

For more information, visit: www.ruvid.org/inforuvid


GLOSSARY
optical communications
The transmission and reception of information by optical devices and sensors.
optical fiber
A thin filament of drawn or extruded glass or plastic having a central core and a cladding of lower index material to promote total internal reflection (TIR). It may be used singly to transmit pulsed optical signals (communications fiber) or in bundles to transmit light or images.  
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