Lightwave Logic touts all-organic polymer ridge waveguide modulator prototype

Lightwave Logic, which is taking a polymer-based approach to photonic integration, says that it has successfully developed a prototype all-organic polymer ridge waveguide intensity modulator based on a Mach-Zehnder design. The modulator will support 10-Gbps applications, although the company has set its sights on 25 Gbps.

The company has worked for several years on organic polymers and recently announced plans to develop polymer photonics integrated circuits (P2ICs) that could either replace or complement devices based on indium phosphide or silicon photonics. In a talk at ECOC 2016, Lightwave Logic board advisor Michael Lebby pointed to development of a modulator (which he described as a slot modulator) as a key milestone for the technology as a platform for fiber-optic network applications, particularly in the data center (see “ECOC 2016 Reporter’s Notebook, Day 1”).

Tom Zelibor, chairman and CEO of Lightwave Logic, echoed that sentiment in announcing the prototype, a milestone the company reached a few months earlier than expected. “This is one of the most significant moments in the history of our great company,” he said. “Our initial ‘alpha’ prototype has exceeded our expectations. This device, enabled by our P2IC polymer system, has demonstrated bandwidth suitable for data rates up to about 10 Gbps, and we believe it can be extended to operate up to 25 Gbps, which is important to the optical networking industry because this data rate is a major node to achieve 100 Gbps (using four channels of 25 Gbps).”

As Zelibor indicates, at 10 Gbps the modulator could support 40-Gbps applications in a 4×10-Gbps configuration, but would need to achieve higher speeds to match current approaches to 100 Gbps. Based on his comments, commercial data center products from Lightwave Logic based on the technology appear to be still down the road.

“There is a lot more to do, so we will now turn our efforts to push the data rate in subsequent iterations and optimize performance characteristics to meet or exceed industry benchmarks,” according to Zelibor. “The road to commercialization is necessarily paved with data, and we now begin to collect device hard performance parameters that substantiate the power, reliability, and ultimately the value proposition of our P2IC technology to provide [to] our growing list of interested parties.”

Lightwave Logic isn’t the only company with an interest in polymer materials for photonic integration. GigPeak (formerly GigOptix) has developed a technology it calls Thin Film Polymer on Silicon; the technology is being used by BrPhotonics, a joint venture between GigPeak and Brazil’s CPqD, to develop optical components and subsystems (see “GigOptix says silicon photonics order imminent for joint venture”).