HiLight Semiconductor receives Innovate UK grant for £1m CMOS laser driver project

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HiLight Semiconductor has successfully applied for a second grant from Innovate UK – the operating name of the Technology Strategy Board, the UK's innovation agency. The grant has been awarded for a £1m project that is intended to lead to the development of a new directly-modulated laser driver.

Designed for use in datacentres and in the infrastructure for 5G cellular networks, the company says the driver will be capable of modulation currents up to 80mApp, whilst supporting both 25Gb/s NRZ and 50Gb/s PAM4 data rates, in a standard CMOS process. The use of standard CMOS is designed to reduce costs and power consumption, whilst permitting greater integration and more compact optical transceiver solutions.

HiLight has successfully completed the feasibility study for 25G/s and 50Gb/s directly-modulated laser drivers and is now in the process of converting CAD simulations into real silicon, capable of being economically mass-produced in the millions. Commented Christian Rookes, vice president, marketing at HiLight: ‘This new program builds upon a previous $2m EU Horizon 2020 grant (see HiLight awarded $2M to develop ultra-low-power PHY ICs), where HiLight developed a 4x25Gb chipset for shorter, VCSEL based links inside data centres. This new project will allow us to address the other half of fibre links which require higher power Lasers. It will also allow us to extend our low power CMOS offering to the worldwide 5G network roll-outs.’

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