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Semiconductor Fiber Technology Complements Optical Fibers in Signal Transmission

Key Takeaways

  • Semiconductor fiber technology leverages the optoelectronic properties of semiconductor materials and enhances the bandwidth, efficiency, performance, and delivery speed of signal communication. 

  • The two types of semiconductor core fibers are polycrystalline semiconductor core fibers and single crystalline semiconductor core fibers.

  • In semiconductor fiber optics, there are no electromagnetic emissions or noises interrupting signal transmission.

 Fiber optic technology

Semiconductor fibers incorporate semiconducting materials in the optical fiber core or cladding

Silica-glass fibers or optical fibers are often used for signal or data transmission. Optical fibers require the conversion of electrical signals to optical signals in the transmission end and vice versa in the receiving end. Carrying information in the form of light requires expensive and complex external devices that consume a large amount of energy.

Semiconductor fiber optic technology has enabled path-breaking in data transmission systems. The semiconductor fiber integrates the electronic and optical functionalities of the semiconductor materials into fiber geometry and enables the possibility of transmitting light and electronic data simultaneously. The semiconductor fibers complete the conversion between electrical and optical signals in transit and are instrumental in improving delivery speed. In this article, we will discuss semiconductor fiber optics technology and its impact on signal transmission. 

Optic Fiber Technology

Until recent years, optic fiber technology was the cornerstone of modern signal transmission. Optic fiber technology offers low-loss, long-distance, high-speed signal transmission through silica-glass fibers commonly known as optical fibers. However, optical fiber cables are used as passive information carriers due to the need for light generation and signal processing at some other location.

In optic fiber technology, electrical to optical signal conversion systems are employed at the signal transmission end. The receiving end reverts back the optical signals to electronic data. The external device requirements in fiber optic signal transmission are undeniable. The expensive and complex external devices used in fiber optic technology consume a large amount of power. The bandwidth, efficiency, and speed of signal transmissions are limited in optical fiber-based signal transmission.

Rapid developments in the field of semiconductor fiber optics are revolutionizing the global face of signal transmission. The introduction of semiconductor materials into data transmission improves the bandwidth, efficiency, and delivery speed of signal transmission. The reduction in investment is one of the highlights of semiconductor fiber optic technology that makes it the favorite of communication design engineers. 

Semiconductor Core Fibers

Semiconductor fiber technology leverages the optoelectronic properties of semiconductor materials and enhances the bandwidth, efficiency, performance, and delivery speed of signal communication. Semiconductor fiber incorporates semiconducting materials in the optical fiber core or cladding. Semiconductor core fibers can be constructed as:

  1. Polycrystalline semiconductor core fibers: The first-ever semiconductor fibers developed were polycrystalline. They were made by embedding silicon and other semiconductor materials into silica glass optical fibers. 

  2. Single crystalline semiconductor core fibers: Single crystal semiconductor core fibers deposit single, long, contiguous semiconductor crystals into glass capillary fibers using scanning lasers. 

Irrespective of the core type developed in semiconductor fibers, semiconductor materials are present in the path of light propagation. A series of crystals or a single crystal in the core of optical fibers enables the integration of optical and electrical signals in polycrystalline and single-crystalline semiconductor core fibers, respectively. However, crystal imperfections in polycrystalline core semiconductor fibers, such as grain boundaries at the surface where the crystals join together, produce light scattering and disrupt signal transmission. Considering aspects of imperfection-induced signal loss and light transfer efficiency, semiconductor fibers with single-crystal cores offset the polycrystalline semiconductor core fibers. 

Advantages of Semiconductor Fibers

Usually, group IV, II-VI, or III-V compounds are used in the fabrication of semiconductor fibers. The use of these semiconductor materials extends the transmission window of the semiconductor fibers. Some of the benefits of using semiconductor fibers are:

  • Easy fabrication and excellent design flexibility
  • Micro structuring of semiconductor fibers is possible and offers high mechanical flexibility 
  • Robust construction capable of supporting large waveguide lengths
  • All-in fiber signal processing is possible
  • Low signal loss and light scattering
  • High light transfer efficiency
  • No electromagnetic emissions or noises
  • Suitable for reliable modern communication involving high-speed mixed signals
  • Lower bit error rate in signal transmission 
  • High signal integrity and reliability
  • As the number of exits decreases, the speed of signal transmission increases

With semiconductor fiber optic technology, the fiber becomes an active information carrier by providing the transmission medium for signals with in-fiber signal modulation, amplification, and other processing capabilities. For faster communication, you can design semiconductor fiber optic technology-based signal transmission using Cadence’s PCB design and analysis software.

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