VCSELs shed more light on fiber

Any product that can do a big job on a modest budget is bound to catch on. Such is the case for vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (vcsel) technology. Basically, vcsels do a laser`s job for about the price of a light-emitting diode (led). So, the most noteworthy characteristic of vcsels in general, and the reason they are among our top five technological breakthroughs, is their cost-effectiveness.

Patrick McLaughlin

Any product that can do a big job on a modest budget is bound to catch on. Such is the case for vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (vcsel) technology. Basically, vcsels do a laser`s job for about the price of a light-emitting diode (led). So, the most noteworthy characteristic of vcsels in general, and the reason they are among our top five technological breakthroughs, is their cost-effectiveness.

Like the small-form-factor fiber-optic connectors, vcsels have been championed by some as key ingredients to successfully implementing fiber-to-the-desk applications. A vcsel is similar to a laser in that both devices are constructed of some of the same materials, and it`s similar to an led in the manner in which it is produced.

Tony Beam, director of premises systems marketing at amp Inc. (Harrisburg, PA), says that development of products such as vcsels is uncommon. "It`s not too often you find something that provides high performance and that cost-effectively meets customer requirements." Without vcsel technology, he says, users of fiber-optic cabling would probably be forced to use singlemode rather than multimode fiber or to squeeze more out of led transmission--a daunting technological challenge that most likely would increase costs.

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