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EU Project Cuts Network Power Consumption

IPSWICH, UKA Europe-wide consortium is striving to make a significant impact on the power consumption of telecommunications and data networks. Five partner organizations have come together for this project, which is titled the Bismide and Nitride Components for High Temperature Operation (BIANCHO). The project is being coordinated by the Tyndall National Institute (Ireland). Academic partners include: Philipps Universitaet, Marburg (Germany); Semiconductor Research Institute (Lithuania); the University of Surrey (UK); Center for Physical Sciences and Technology; Semiconductor Physics Institute; and CIP Technologies.

In accordance with this three-year initiative, semiconductor materials will be developed to allow lasers and other photonic components to become more energy efficient while increasing their tolerance of high operating temperatures. Current networks are estimated to consume as much as 3 percent of European electricity. Many photonic components for telecommunications applications have major intrinsic losses. For example, around 80 percent of the electrical power used by a laser chip is being emitted as waste heat.

Such energy losses are mainly due to a process known as Auger recombination. This process occurs as a consequence of the band structure of the semiconductor materials used in making components like semiconductor lasers and optical amplifiers. BIANCHO hopes to eliminate Auger recombination by manipulating the electronic band structure of the semiconductor materials through the use of the dilute bismide and nitride alloys of gallium arsenide and indium phosphide.

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