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Oclaro samples 20 Gigabit VCSELs

07 February 2012
 
Oclaro has sampled a 20Gbps vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL). The device is aimed at next-generation optical interconnects for consumer markets. The VCSEL is also suitable for datacom applications such as 16 Gigabit Fibre Channel.
 
The company says it has shipped over 100 million VCSELs overall, with 0.5 million 10Gbps VCSELs being shipped in 2011 alone. The main markets for VCSELs include notebook computers, optical cables, optical mice and smart phones.   
 
"Of these 500,000 10-Gig VCSELs, some of them go into datacom applications, but the majority is used for consumer applications such as Lightpeak/ Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 and HDMI [audio/ video interface]," said Robert Blum, director of product marketing for Oclaro's photonic components business unit.
 
Oclaro is not the first to offer VCSELs for 16 Gigabit Fibre Channel. Vendors such as Avago Technologies and Finisar already offer transceivers for the standard. But Blum says Oclaro's aim is to be the leading merchant supplier of lasers with a focus on high-volume applications. “Customers who don't have their own laser manufacturing can now benefit from a high-quality VCSEL that is available in volume,” he said.
 
Device reliability and high-temperature performance are the main challenges getting a VCSEL to operate at 20Gbps. A higher bandwidth is usually achieved by increasing the laser's photon density, achieved by reducing the aperture or increasing the drive current or both, says Blum: "This comes at the expense of reduced reliability." Oclaro claims its latest VCSEL meets the reliability requirements for consumer and datacom applications.
 
Oclaro expects to have 25Gbps VCSELs available once there is market demand. "We don't see a market need before the end of this year," said Blum. 
 
Meanwhile, market demand will also dictate when the 20Gbps VCSEL moves to volume production. "The VCSEL technology is certainly ready," he concluded.
 
By Roy Rubenstein