On the morning of Day Zero at IDF Mario Paniccia, an Intel Fellow and Director of the Photonics Technology Lab, told attendees that Intel has developed a silicon- and germanium-based photo detector that can detect laser light signals at speeds of over 40 Gbits/sec.
At this speed, the company claims that it is the world’s best performing Silicon Germanium photo detector.
Photo detection, or fibre optic communication as many of you will know it as, involves the process of converting optical data into electrical data. In the past though, fibre optics got a reputation for being an expensive and specialised solution to the problem.
This prompted Intel to start researching silicon photonics, which involves manufacturing fibre optic components from silicon. While silicon is opaque in the visible spectrum of light, it’s transparent at infrared wavelengths, meaning it can guide light. However, silicon cannot absorb light, which presents a problem.