Fiberoptic fallout reaches far

The announcement by start-up Infinera (Sunnyvale, CA) that it is nearing the first real-world application of its monolithic indium phosphide-based photonic ­integrated-circuit technology (see Optoelectronics Report, Sept.

Oct 1st, 2004

The announcement by start-up Infinera (Sunnyvale, CA) that it is nearing the first real-world application of its monolithic indium phosphide-based photonic ­integrated-circuit technology (see Optoelectronics Report, Sept. 15, 2004, p. 5) again spotlights the continuing research on many fronts into creating monolithic light-based integrated circuits (ICs). While these devices would be conceptually along the lines of the semiconductor-based ICs in electronics, the integration of multiple photonic functions has proven especially challenging for a number of reasons, not least of which is the lack of a common “technology platform,” such as that provided in electronics by silicon. The driving force behind these devices today is fiberoptic communications, but longer term their impact on photonics will be far reaching.

Lithographically scribed planar holograms like those shown on this month’s cover may offer one approach to addressing the integration problem, potentially enabling multiple optical functions to be combined in a single device (see p. 73). Another technique, generically called planar-lightwave circuitry, can put some optical functions on a wafer and has been available commercially for a while. According to one commentator such devices will be an essential part of future TV and video transport systems (see p. 70).

Elsewhere, fiberoptic communications was also the driving force behind development of semiconductor lasers that delivered new levels of performance and ­reliability. Their impact has been far reaching as well, spawning a whole new ­family of compact “solid-state” low-power blue-emitting lasers with applications extending well beyond optical communications into bio-optics, the graphic arts, and perhaps opening the door to some genuinely novel opportunities (see p. 79).

A new face

This month we welcome a new member to our technical editorial staff: Gail Overton joins us as associate editor. Her background includes a bachelor’s degree in physics from San Diego State University and several years of product engineering and ­marketing experience in the optics and photonics industry-an ideal combination for a technical editor at Laser Focus World.

Stephen G. Anderson
Associate Publisher/Editor in Chief
stevega@pennwell.com

More in Research