Abstract

We investigate the design of free-space optical interconnects (FSOIs) based on arrays of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), microlenses, and photodetectors. We explain the effect of the modal structure of a multimode VCSEL beam on the performance of a FSOI with microchannel architecture. A Gaussian-beam diffraction model is used in combination with the experimentally obtained spectrally resolved VCSEL beam profiles to determine the optical channel crosstalk and the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) in the system. The dependence of the SNR on the feature parameters of a FSOI is investigated. We found that the presence of higher-order modes reduces the SNR and the maximum feasible interconnect distance. We also found that the positioning of a VCSEL array relative to the transmitter microlens has a significant impact on the SNR and the maximum feasible interconnect distance. Our analysis shows that the departure from the traditional confocal system yields several advantages including the extended interconnect distance and/or improved SNR. The results show that FSOIs based on multimode VCSELs can be efficiently utilized in both chip-level and board-level interconnects.

© 2002 Optical Society of America

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