BIANCHO project aims to cut power consumption of telecom networks

Aug. 10, 2010
Ipswich, England--The BIANCHO project aims to reduce the power consumption of communications networks, estimated to consume as much as 3% of European electricity.

Ipswich, England--A European Union (EU) consortium has taken up the challenge of making a significant impact on the power consumption of telecommunications and data networks, which are estimated to consume as much as 3% of European electricity. Five partner organizations have come together in the BIANCHO project (BIsmide And Nitride Components for High temperature Operation), a three-year research and development initiative supported to the tune of $2.90 million dollars (€2.19 million) through the EU Framework 7 programme. See also "Adva to participate in project to reduce power consumption in optical networks."

The project will develop new semiconductor materials to allow lasers and other photonic components to become more energy efficient and also more tolerant of high operating temperatures. This power reduction is vital as optical communication systems are becoming the principal way to deliver ever-increasing data-rich broadband services to homes and businesses.

Many current photonic components for telecommunications applications have major intrinsic losses, with around 80% of the electrical power used by a laser chip being emitted as waste heat, for example. The presence of this waste heat necessitates the use of thermoelectric coolers and an air-conditioned environment in order to control the device temperature, cascading the energy requirements by more than an order of magnitude.

The energy losses are mainly due to a process known as Auger recombination, a consequence of the band structure of the semiconductor materials used in making components such as semiconductor lasers and optical amplifiers. Over many years, incremental approaches have sought to reduce the consequent inefficiencies without addressing their fundamental cause. BIANCHO proposes a radical change of approach: to eliminate Auger recombination by manipulating the electronic band structure of the semiconductor materials through the use of novel dilute bismide and dilute nitride alloys of gallium arsenide and indium phosphide. This will allow the creation of more efficient and temperature-tolerant photonic devices that could operate without the power-hungry cooling equipment that today's networks demand.

The project brings together five leading European partners with complementary expertise in epitaxy, structural characterization of materials, device physics, band structure modelling, advanced device fabrication, packaging and commercialization. Coordinated by the Tyndall National Institute (Ireland), internationally recognized for its strength in semiconductor band structure modelling, the other academic partners are Philipps Universitaet Marburg (Germany) focusing on material growth and characterisation; Semiconductor Research Institute (Lithuania) responsible for the design, manufacture and characterisation of bismide-based epitaxial structures; and the University of Surrey (UK) who contribute unique characterization facilities and modelling expertise. Commercialization of the project results will be led by CIP Technologies (UK), an organization with a long history of applied photonics in the telecommunications sector.

SOURCE: Wordsun;

--Posted by Gail Overton; [email protected];

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