Waveguides for optical data transfer

Today’s rapidly growing digital infrastructure demands steadily increasing data rates on all communication platforms.

While optical data transfer is already a standard in the long-haul regime it is still quite rare on the short distance e.g. for chip-to-chip interconnection. Nevertheless, increasing power consumption and strong crosstalk between signal lines imposes limits to conventional electric interconnection technologies also on short length scales. Optical data transfer can overcome these hurdles but technological challenges and expensive integration still impede market penetration of optical interconnects strongly.

Fraunhofer ISC meets the demand for optical data transfer by developing novel core and cladding material systems for conventional optical waveguides. Conventional means here, that core and cladding are fabricated along several subsequent processing steps with UV-lithography. The developed materials are inorganic/organic hybrid polymers (ORMOCER®) that can be tuned to meet application specific requirements and that exhibit extraordinary optical properties and reliability.


3D waveguides written inside optical hybrid polymer (ORMOCER®) using ultrafast laser-based polymerization.


In addition, Fraunhofer ISC develops the materials and the technology for 3D optical interconnects fabricated by ultrashort laser processing. In this process, the waveguide is written along arbitrary trajectories in 3D space to create an optical link between two optoelectronic components, e.g. a VCSEL and a photodiode. This process can be carried out after the assembly of the optical components - hence, no tight tolerances for the assembly. Moreover, the number of processing steps is reduced significantly compared to processing with UV-lithography. This approach has received SPIE’s Green Photonics Award in 2013.


of 2PP-written waveguides  

  • Permanent index contrast
  • Less resources in terms of material (just one material for core and cladding), energy, and solvent
  • Higher yield due to less process steps
  • Alignment of components not critical
  • Cost effective
  • Complex index structures beyond waveguides possible
  • Integration into standard PCB processes feasible

Our competences

  • Unique combination of process technology and development of tailored hybrid polymers (ORMOCER®)
  • CAD/CAM chain: From design to prototype
  • Feasibility studies and prototyping


Further information

Flyer Two-Photon Polymerization