Nanotechnology applications that use silicon

IBM industrialises silicon and optical nanotechnology for big data

John Kelly, senior vice-president and director of IBM Research, described the device as a breakthrough, paving the way to large-scale fabrication.

The company originally developed a proof-of concept device in 2010.

IBM has now industrialised the chip by adding silicon nanophotonics into a high-performance 90nm CMOS fabrication line. It claims its manufacturing process is able to integrate optical components like wavelength division multiplexers (WDM), modulators and detectors side-by-side with a CMOS electrical circuitry.

As a result, single-chip optical communications transceivers can be manufactured in a conventional semiconductor foundry, providing significant cost reduction over traditional approaches, according to IBM.

Big data analysis is one of the real-world applications of silicon nanophotonics. IBM said the technology could provide answers to big data challenges by seamlessly connecting various parts of large systems, whether a few centimetres or some kilometres apart, and move terabytes of data via pulses of light through optical fibres.

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