Intel has been experimenting with the standard silicon manufacturing processes, and has created the world's first continuous wave silicon laser. This technology could herald the coming of inexpensive, high-quality lasers and optical devices to mainstream use in computing. Working with silicon's crystalline structure to amplify light, Intel has been able to produce a continuous, high-quality laser beam. Although far from being ready as a commercial product, Intel feels that this breakthrough will lead to inexpensive optical devices that move data inside and between computers at the speed of light, ushering in a flood of new applications for high-speed computing.
"Fundamentally, we have demonstrated for the first time that standard silicon can be used to build devices that amplify light. The use of high-quality photonic devices has been limited because they are expensive to manufacture, assemble and package. This research is a major step towards bringing the benefits of low-cost, high-bandwidth, silicon-based optical devices to the mass market." - Dr Mario Paniccia, director of Intel's Photonics Technology Lab.