Optical Interconnects Finally Seeing the Light in Silicon Photonics: Past the Hype

Second Author's Department

Center of Nanoelectronics and Devices (CND)

Third Author's Department

Center of Nanoelectronics and Devices (CND)

Fourth Author's Department

Physics Department

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Nanomaterials (Basel, Switzerland)

Publication Date





Electrical interconnects are becoming a bottleneck in the way towards meeting future performance requirements of integrated circuits. Moore's law, which observes the doubling of the number of transistors in integrated circuits every couple of years, can no longer be maintained due to reaching a physical barrier for scaling down the transistor's size lower than 5 nm. Heading towards multi-core and many-core chips, to mitigate such a barrier and maintain Moore's law in the future, is the solution being pursued today. However, such distributed nature requires a large interconnect network that is found to consume more than 80% of the microprocessor power. Optical interconnects represent one of the viable future alternatives that can resolve many of the challenges faced by electrical interconnects. However, reaching a maturity level in optical interconnects that would allow for the transition from electrical to optical interconnects for intra-chip and inter-chip communication is still facing several challenges. A review study is required to compare the recent developments in the optical interconnects with the performance requirements needed to reach the required maturity level for the transition to happen. This review paper dissects the optical interconnect system into its components and explains the foundational concepts behind the various passive and active components along with the performance metrics. The performance of different types of on-chip lasers, grating and edge couplers, modulators, and photodetectors are compared. The potential of a slot waveguide is investigated as a new foundation since it allows for guiding and confining light into low index regions of a few tens of nanometers in cross-section. Additionally, it can be tuned to optimize transmissions over 90° bends. Hence, high-density opto-electronic integrated circuits with optical interconnects reaching the dimensions of their electrical counterparts are becoming a possibility. The latest complete optical interconnect systems realized so far are reviewed as well.

First Page


Last Page