Recently, there have been alternative emerging applications for photonics, where the demand for greater bandwidth requires the advantages provided by optics for interconnections. The most likely insertion points for integrated photonics into systems will be in places where an extreme amount of data is required to travel in a very small space. Two examples of applications are for microprocessor data busses (i.e. from microprocessor to memory or between multiple processors) and in the backplane of server racks. These applications involve an increase in complexity in the optical domain that requires greater integration of optical and electronic components. Monolithic integration of a suite of optical and electronic capabilities on one substrate is the natural progression for the vision of an integrated photonic system. Using Si for optical interconnects would enable a platform for such a monolithic integration of optics and microelectronics. Photonics on silicon has been suggested since the 1980’s. It is only in the last few years, however, that sub-micron-size photonic structures have been realized. The challenge of using silicon as a photonic platform is the lack of strong active devices in silicon rich modulators, switches and detectors.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

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