Vector Photonics to Develop PCSEL Tech for Data Centers

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Vector Photonics will develop a 1310-nm, continuous-wave (CW) PCSEL for low-power-consumption, optical interconnections between servers in hyperscale data centers. The company received £600,000 ($830,757) in support of the TITAN (PhotonIc Crystal Lasers for Ethernet Applications) project.

The company said that the PCSEL will deliver the equivalent system optical performance as the lasers currently used and consume half the electrical power and produce far less heat.

“The lasers being used in the network processing architecture of hyperscale data centers require so much electrical power to operate, that it is the heat they create, and the energy used by the systems which cool them, which has become the limiting factor to increased optical performance,” said Richard Taylor, Vector Photonics’ CTO.

The 1310-nm PCSELs are equally applicable to the two network processing architectures that are currently evolving, Taylor said: co-processor optics and pluggable, direct modulated laser optical transceivers.

Of the full award, £300k has come from Innovate UK’s Investor Partnership Programme. Matching that amount in private investment were UKI2S, a specialist, deep-tech seed fund for U.K.-based research spinouts; the Scottish Growth Scheme, managed through Foresight Group Equity Finance; and Equity Gap, an angel syndicate investing in emerging Scottish businesses.

“Increases to system optical performance in hyperscale data centers are being driven by escalating demand from network connected devices, such as smartphones, PCs, and the IoT,” Taylor said. “Power consumption increases as a result. It is therefore only low-power-consumption systems using PCSELs that can realistically facilitate the optical performance requirements of the data centers of the future.”

“Since we anticipate the system optical performance requirements of next-generation, hyperscale data centers increasing in future, it is only low-power-consumption systems using PCSELs that can realistically facilitate this increase,” said Neil Martin, Vector Photonics’ CEO.

The Glasgow University spinout made a number of hires earlier in the year, including David Childs, co-inventor of the PCSEL, as director of product development.

Published: September 2021
BusinessPCSELTitanPhotonic Crystal Lasers for Ethernet ApplicationsLasersVector PhotonicsInvestor Partnership ProgrammeScotlandGlasgow Universitylight speed

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