Monday, December 25, 2006

Research Yields Optical Buffer Memory

U.S. scientists, using state-of-the-art semiconductor manufacturing technology, said they created an optical buffer memory on a miniature silicon chip.
The device -- a temporary storage area for light signals -- works by slowing down the light signals, said Yurii Vlasov of the IBM Thomas J Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, N.Y.
The optical buffer was made by connecting a string of up to 100 tiny silicon ring waveguides -- tiny oval "racetracks" with a perimeter of just 55 micrometers, Vlasov said. By experimenting with various designs, the team created the buffer that could store up to 10 bits of information at data rates of up to 20 gigabits per second, he said.
While silicon ring waveguides were reported before, Vlasov said his team is the first to show it is possible to use a large number of rings to create the device and test its compatibility with real data at gigabit speeds.
Noting further testing is needed, Vlasov said such a buffer could help future optical networks synchronize different data streams without converting the signals into the electronic domain.
His team's findings were published in Nature Photonics.


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