Beyond silicon

The British inventors of a revolutionary new fibre optic technology called ASOC, Bookham Technology, have just launched their first mass market product: a single-wavelength bi-directional transceiver for point-to-point or passive optical network applications.

ASOC stands for Active Silicon integrated Optical Circuits which is a technology for manufacturing optical integrated circuits with light carried in silicon waveguides etched on silicon-on-insulator wafers. It is an inexpensive solution because Bookham has adapted the processing techniques associated with the mature silicon microfabrication industry to simplify the production of opto-electronic components such as transceivers, switches and sensors, thereby keeping the advantages of silicon mass manufacture: reliability, low cost and high production volumes.

Central to ASOC technology are the use of silicon waveguides: a silicon ridge is optically isolated from the substrate by a layer of lower refractive index silica. The micro-machined location features on the circuits allow accurate alignment of fibres and lasers down to less than one micron, simplifying the packaging of the devices considerably.

In the future, Bookham plans to integrate electronic circuitry with the optics, thereby bringing down the cost of products even further.

{{Bookham TechnologyTel: Chilton (01235) 445377Enter 402}}