The experimental optical interconnection module of the Free-Space Accelerator for Switching Terabit Networks (FAST-Net) project is described and characterized. Four two-dimensional (2-D) arrays of monolithically integrated vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSEL’s) and photodetectors (PD’s) were designed, fabricated, and incorporated into a folded optical system that links a 10 cm × 10 cm multichip smart pixel plane to itself in a global point-to-point pattern. The optical system effects a fully connected network in which each chip is connected to all others with a multichannel bidirectional data path. VCSEL’s and detectors are arranged in clusters on the chips with an interelement spacing of 140 µm. Calculations based on measurements of resolution and registration tolerances showed that the square 50-µm detector in a typical interchip link captures approximately 85% of incident light from its associated VCSEL. The measured optical transmission efficiency was 38%, with the losses primarily due to reflections at the surfaces of the multielement lenses, which were not antireflection coated for the VCSEL wavelength. The overall efficiency for this demonstration is therefore 32%. With the measured optical confinement, an optical system that is optimized for transmission at the VCSEL wavelength will achieve an overall efficiency of greater than 80%. These results suggest that, as high-density VCSEL-based smart pixel technology matures, the FAST-Net optical interconnection concept will provide a low-loss, compact, global interconnection approach for high bisection-bandwidth multiprocessor applications in switching, signal processing, and image processing.
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