Home → Magazine Archive → May 2016 (Vol. 59, No. 5) → Silicon Photonics: Ready to Go the Distance? → Abstract

Silicon Photonics: Ready to Go the Distance?

By Don Monroe

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 59 No. 5, Pages 26-28

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Although photons of light dominate the long-distance information superhighways of the Internet, electrons remain the workhorses that move and process information at the local level. Visionaries have imagined for decades that power-efficient light-based communication would migrate to ever-shorter distances and eventually move onto silicon chips alongside transistors at the centimeter scale.

After more than a decade of research and development, chips with onboard photonics are poised to enter the marketplace. Rather than connecting nearby electronic circuits, however, these devices aim to provide high-bandwidth connections over hundreds of meters or longer. Some devices could provide customized solutions for servers and exascale computing, whereas others target the large but cost-sensitive data center market.


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