This SBIR project is to develop a new type of high-speed optical data link that can operate with high efficiency and reliability to enable optical data speeds that are much greater than currently possible. The optical data link will use a vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) with a new type of cavity that eliminates internal strain and reduces the internal device temperature to operate with very high reliability under bias conditions needed for high speed. The currently used VCSELs in for example NASA’s SpaceFibre are limited to 3-6.125 Gbps mainly due to reliability problems for bias currents needed to reach higher speeds. When reliability constraints are lessened for use in data centers for example, the same VCSEL technology used for data centers can produce 25 Gbps, with 50 Gbps VCSEL-based data links now under development. The VCSEL technology proposed for this project uses a new type of laser cavity that can be scaled smaller and operate with higher reliability than existing technology, and has already been shown to operate with very high reliability under extreme conditions exceeding that possible using commercially available VCSELs. The SBIR Phase I project will develop the new laser device for direct insertion into high quality transceiver packages being manufactured for space platforms. A Phase II effort will characterize the optical transceiver to develop a prototype that can be supplied to government laboratories and tested on various platforms. The new laser technology can be manufactured with a much smaller laser cavity than has been possible before, to improve the optical link efficiency by reducing bit energy. sdPhotonics will partner with a transceiver manufacture and utilize growth and fabrication foundries to develop a commercial supply of the new laser technology for use in high speed optical data networks for harsh environments.
NASA applications are for radiation-hardened, high-speed, reliable optical interconnects for use in NASA satellites and space platforms. Data rates target speeds of 25 Gbps and greater with links that can operate with high efficiency and bit energy less than 10 pJ. Specific applications include satellites with optical data networks that must integrate reliable, low bit energy, low weight, radiation protection, and high-speed data transfer rates.
The non-NASA applications include a host of high speed optical data links and networks that operate with high efficiency, low cost directly modulated lasers. These include data centers, personal computing, high performance computing, and military optical interconnects including those that operate in harsh environments.