Semiconductor Fiber Optics: Revolutionizing Modern Communication Systems
In semiconductor fiber optic technology, long strands of silica glass fibers are deposited with semiconductor materials such as silicon, germanium, or other crystalline semiconductors.
The ultimate goal of modern communication systems is to integrate planar optoelectronic device functionalities into a fiber-based infrastructure.
The most common method of semiconductor optic fiber fabrication is the molten core draw method.
Semiconductor fiber optic technology enables long-distance data transmission without requiring electrical-optical-electrical conversion stages
In fiber optics, continuous research is being conducted to expand the use of semiconductor materials for elegant device design and fabrication. One such contribution reported from a collaboration between teams at Pennsylvania State University and Southampton University commenced the evolution of semiconductor fiber optics. The team successfully deposited amorphous and crystalline silicon inside silica microstructured optical fibers using the high-pressure microfluidic chemical deposition method.
The science involving glass-clad semiconductor optical fibers and devices is referred to as semiconductor fiber optics. The introduction of semiconductor functionalities into optical fibers paved the way for the development of advanced semiconductor devices in terms of integration and waveguide design. Semiconductor fiber optics technology is growing and gaining importance due to the transformations it brings to modern communication systems. Using semiconductor fiber optic technology, data can be transmitted over long distances without requiring electrical-optical-electrical conversion stages.
Advances in Fiber Optic Communication
Fiber optic technology is the lifeline of modern communication systems. Common applications of optical fibers include (but are not limited to): telecommunications, defense, remote sensing, and biomedicine. Advances in fiber optic technology are making fibers work not only as passive waveguides but also mediums for the modulation, generation, and manipulation of optical radiations.
There are two main technologies by which the advantages of semiconductor materials are utilized in fiber optics:
Semiconductor fiber optics - In semiconductor fiber optic technology, long strands of silica glass fibers are deposited with semiconductor materials such as silicon, germanium, or other crystalline semiconductors.
Electronics based on planar chips - Planar chips are fabricated using lithography and are heterogeneously interfaced through intermediate optics and packaging. Some examples of planar chip functionalities are detectors, amplifiers, modulators, and lasers.
Modern communication systems utilize both semiconductor fiber optics as well as chip-based planar optoelectronic devices. The ultimate goal of modern communication systems is to integrate planar optoelectronic device functionalities into fiber-based infrastructure. Achieving all-in-fiber technology removes discrete, heterogenous, and expensive optoelectronic devices from communications. The seamless integration of functionalities, such as optical radiation generation and modulation, into the fiber structure makes these communication systems highly efficient at a lower cost.
Semiconductor Fiber Optics Technology
Semiconductor fiber optics technology is a new technology that incorporates semiconductor materials into a glass-clad fiber structure. Semiconductor fiber optics introduces optoelectronic functionalities to traditional optical fibers. With the integration of semiconductor materials into the fiber optic platform, transmission windows are widened, enhancing the non-linear performance of the fibers.
A popular approach in semiconductor fiber technology is to incorporate crystalline and amorphous semiconductor materials into fiber geometry. Semiconductor core fibers are one such example where the semiconducting materials are incorporated into the optical fiber core or cladding. Compared to optical fibers, semiconductor fiber optic technology eliminates the need for electrical to optical conversion (and vice versa) in the transmission and receiving ends of modern communication systems.
Rapid developments in the field of semiconductor fiber optics are revolutionizing the global face of data and signal transmission. The bandwidth, efficiency, and delivery speed of signal transmissions are improved with semiconductor fiber optic technology. And, reduced costs are an added bonus, increasing the application of semiconductor fiber optic technology in optical data communications, automotive, artificial intelligence, biomedical, astronomy, and aerospace systems.
Semiconductor Fiber Optic Fabrication
The most common material pairing in semiconductor fiber optics is a thin fiber structure paired with glass cladding and a crystalline semiconductor core. This kind of semiconductor core optical fiber showcases electronic, optoelectronic, thermoelectric, and mechanical properties that are different from conventional optical fibers. Since the physical properties of silica and semiconductors are different at high temperatures, it is not practical to draw the materials together into thin fiber structures.
The fabrication and post-processing methods of semiconductor optic fibers influence the quality, performance, optical losses, and grain size of core materials. There are several semiconductor fiber fabrication methods available such as high-pressure chemical vapor deposition (HPCVD) and molten core draw (MCD). The most common method of semiconductor optic fiber fabrication is MCD. In the MCD method, the core material is in the fluid melt phase and is contained by the glass cladding. The combination of core-cladding is drawn into fiber dimensions.
Semiconductor fiber optic fabrication is focused on building semiconductor electronics inside microstructured optic fibers. Semiconductor fibers fabricated from glass semiconductors significantly reduce the cost associated with electrical-optical conversions in optical networks. Cadence’s suite of tools can assist in the design of semiconductor fiber optic-based communication systems. Cadence offers a platform for semiconductor fiber optic system design, simulation, and analysis.
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