Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mini-Lasers And Silicon On Sapphire Technology Lead To Speedier And Cost-Effective Interconnects Between Computer Chips

Date:
January 2, 2002
Source:
Johns Hopkins University
Summary:
Using light beams in place of metal wires, engineers at The Johns Hopkins University have devised a cost-effective method to speed up the way microchips "talk" to each other. The method, created by a team in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, takes advantage of unusual characteristics associated with “silicon on sapphire” technology, a new way to manufacture microchips.

By using light beams in place of metal wires, engineers at The Johns Hopkins University have devised a cost- effective way to speed up the way microchips "talk" to each other. The method, created by a team in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, takes advantage of unusual characteristics associated with silicon on sapphire technology, a new way to manufacture microchips.

"We've developed a very fast and cost-effective way of getting data on and off a chip without using wire," says Andreas G. Andreou, a professor in the department and director of the lab in which the work was done. "It really promises to revolutionize how computer systems for homes and businesses are put together."

Andreou’s team relies on the same fiber optics technology that is used to carry phone conversations across great distances. These components are incorporated into a new type of microchip technology. The microchips inside most modern computers are assembled on thin slices of silicon, a material that is a semiconductor. The Johns Hopkins engineers use microchips in which silicon is layered onto thin slices of synthetic sapphire, a material that is an insulator and also allows light to pass through it.

In the microsystem devised by Andreou’s team, a signal that originates in a wire is transformed into light and beamed through the transparent sapphire substrate via a laser that is only slightly larger than a human hair. Microlenses and other optical components, manufactured at the same time as the electronic circuits on the microchip, collect the light beam and guide it to another place on the microchip or, using an optical fiber, move it to another chip.

At its destination, the light enters a high-speed optical receiver circuit that transforms the stream of photons into a stream of electrons that continue their journey through electrical wiring connected to other computer components. By using optical signals, or simply an unhindered laser beam, the Johns Hopkins researchers believe a signal could move 100 times faster than it does along a metal wire. Also, the optoelectric interface circuits require much less power because the sapphire substrate is an insulating material, not a semiconductor. This property of the substrate reduces the power dissipation that commonly occurs in modern microprocessors when signals travel through wires that have capacitances, which are parasitic components that not only degrade the signals but also increase the power consumption of the system.

The new design is expected to significantly speed the movement of data between electronic components across a single chip and from one chip to another for a simple reason: “Without the parasitic capacitances, it’s much faster to send signals at the speed of light,” says Alyssa Apsel, a doctoral student in the Anderou lab who helped developed the system.

Andreou and Apsel wrote about the breakthrough in an article published in the November 2001 issue of “IEEE Circuits and Systems Magazine.” Their co-authors were Zaven K Kalayjian, a former Johns Hopkins doctoral student; Phillippe O. Pouliquen, a Johns Hopkins postdoctoral fellow; Ravi A. Athale, formerly of George Mason University and now at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; George Simonis of the Army Research Laboratories; and Ron Reedy of the Peregrine Semiconductor Corp. Also, in the Sept. 13, 2001, issue of the journal “Electronics Letters,” Apsel and Andreou reported on this new design and described a high-speed, very-low-power optical receiver that uses this new technology.

The project was supported by grants from the Army Research Laboratories and the National Science Foundation.

Related Links:

Johns Hopkins Sensory Communication and Microsystems Laboratory: http://olympus.ece.jhu.edu

Andreas Andreou’s Web Page: http://olympus.ece.jhu.edu/~andreou/index.htm

Alyssa Apsel’s Web Page: http://olympus.ece.jhu.edu/~apsel

Johns Hopkins Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering: http://www.ece.jhu.edu


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins University. "Mini-Lasers And Silicon On Sapphire Technology Lead To Speedier And Cost-Effective Interconnects Between Computer Chips." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 January 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020102075205.htm>.
Johns Hopkins University. (2002, January 2). Mini-Lasers And Silicon On Sapphire Technology Lead To Speedier And Cost-Effective Interconnects Between Computer Chips. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020102075205.htm
Johns Hopkins University. "Mini-Lasers And Silicon On Sapphire Technology Lead To Speedier And Cost-Effective Interconnects Between Computer Chips." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020102075205.htm (accessed August 31, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) — Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) — Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) — Chinese researchers have expanded on Cold War-era tech and are closer to building a submarine that could reach the speed of sound. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) — An acute coal shortage is likely to be aggravated as India's supreme court declared government coal allocations illegal, says Breakingviews' Peter Thal Larsen. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins