OIL Today: Current Developments and Activities

Board/substrate Level PWGs. OIL has worked for several years with the High Density Packaging User Group consortium (HDP) to provide our GuideLink™ polymer waveguides as part of an effort to demonstrate the status and maturity for optical technology for practical optical circuit board interconnectivity for high data rate links at the circuit board level. Demonstration boards with OIL’s PWG board edge connections have been provided for evaluation.

The next generation development is underway aimed at functional demonstrations using fiber and PWG hybrid optical connectivity. Current efforts also involve creation of a multiport PWG flex link backplane entirely using polymer waveguide film sheets. These sheets contain 12-channel flexible daughter board links in self-supporting waveguide containing films.  Each backplane unit flexibly connects to 5 daughter boards. Additional details can be found here. (2).

PWG splitter arrays for network monitoring taps. OIL is developing compact dense arrays of GuideLink™ polymer waveguide splitters fully fiber interconnected and packaged for network data monitoring taps. Current designs have up to 20 splitters each with tap monitor and network output channels. All splitters are within a 1.2 by 0.6 cm film arranged bi-directionally for compactness.  All splitter waveguide inputs contain imaged mode scramblers to ensure stable operation of the multimode splitters over a wide range of expected mode filled (NA) inputs. Developments to optimize packaging and minimize manufacturing cost with max yield are in process. Particular efforts are underway to balance acceptable loss for the 50/50 and 70/30 split tap  ratios and any cross talk disturbance impacting eye diagram performance for acceptable operation at 10Gb/s and 20Gb/s per channel. OM4 fibers are used with OIL’s PWG matching NA with in-plane graded index profiles for improved coupling.  Additional information on OIL’s optical data center tap monitoring can be found here (3).

Chip photonic output coupling to OIL’s PWGs.  An exploratory program is underway to go from small high NA silicon photonic chip waveguides to lower NA fiber guides or to other chips. OIL has demonstrated the capability to accept high NA and reduce it by a factor of 3 in vertical and horizontal directions using high index small low mode PWG. Optimizing for high NA small guides and create multi-channel fan outs is the next step.

In the early 1990’s the OIL team demonstrated and reported the capability for creating and fiber coupling single mode PWG. The capability is expected to be of value for coupling to photonic chip interfaces going forward.  For additional information see C.P.Wong’s “Polymer Electronics and Photonic Applications edited by C.P.Wong with OIL’s contributed chapter entitled “Polymers for Integrated Optical Waveguides”. (see references)

Next generation polymer waveguide formulations Formulation and process modifications continue to be explored and developed. The goal of the ongoing effort is to further improve application opportunities and performance of OIL’s PWG. By varying the ratio of aliphatic (long chain polymers) and aromatic (ring polymers) we have developed high and low NA waveguides for optimum coupling to and from graded index optical fibers (OM1 62.5/125 micron and OM3/OM4 50/125 microns). This example of formulation modification demonstrates a unique capability to adjust waveguide properties for low loss coupling or other applications requirements. Work is underway to improve other PWG properties. Constituents other than our current monomers are also being investigated.

Hydrocarbon fuel sensors: OIL is currently exploring options and developing at the request of a large company improved fiber based fuel sensor systems and technology. Efforts to improve coupling for these systems is expected to capitalize on our experience with both PWG, OF’s and mode scrambling. inserted

Going forward

New Business Opportunities. OIL continues to seek business opportunities based on our considerable prototype product experience and unique PWGs. These include board level interconnections, TxRx applications, splitter/combiner devices, and sensing products. We hope to exploit experience with HDP to utilize our polymer waveguide array products for substrate attached and self-supporting flexible links for circuit boards and board edge to fiber array connectorization. OIL hopes to capitalize on connectorization capabilities and device functionality involving combiners, star-couplers, splitters and parallel array links as well as delivery of hundreds of 4 and 8 to 1 wavelength and signal combiners. Of high interest is to seek opportunities to capitalize on our capabilities for novel sensors, in particular bio-sensors. Additional sensor information can be found here (4).

An example of working with a venture capital funded startup, OIL up to 6 waveguides combiner outputs were inserted inside hypodermic needles that provided a return split signal for bio sensing of body fluid concentration in sub-cutaneous skin layers reducing their technology to practice.

Modus Operandi: To date Optical InterLinks works, typically under NDA’s, closely with customers to design and configure prototype products to meet their unique requirements. Close collaboration enables us to capitalize on our versatile technologies for novel configurations that provide unique solutions for our customers. Depending on the success and continued market interest the goal is to then move toward pilot production and larger scale manufacturing as our customers business grows. Numerous opportunities have reached small scale pilot production but due to market or customer technical issues were not continued. Sufficient resources to adequately fund OIL growth have not been generated with this approach.

OIL is actively seeking new investment and buyout, It is clear that OIL needs to find a home for the technology that can provide the resources for equipment, personnel, on-going technology and applications development, and marketing to ensure sufficient revenue to justify continued business operations, provide products that have value in the marketplace, and survival and flourishing of the technology.