Data is an important raw material in our information society. They must be transported quickly and distributed efficiently. Today, data transport in the telecommunications sector (over long distances) as well as in corporate networks (over short distances) is largely carried out via optical fibres. However, there are differences in the transmission of data: telecommunications require singlemode fibers and corresponding singlemode distributors that transmit data at high clock rates over long distances. In the shorter corporate networks, so-called multimode fibres and distributors are used, which are easier to handle but currently only permit uniform (symmetrical) division of the data streams. A simple transmission of the solutions from telecommunications to achieve an uneven (asymmetrical) distribution in short-distance communication is ruled out for technical reasons.
The aim of the BMBF-funded research project “ASYMODE- Verfahrensentwicklung zur industriellen Herstellung von planar integrierten Multimode-Lichtwellenleitern in Glas für asymmetrische Verzweigiger” (ASYMODE process development for the industrial production of planar integrated multimode optical waveguides in glass for asymmetrical splitters) is to develop multimode optical waveguides that enable asymmetrical data distribution and can be produced industrially. This requires basic research. Physical processes have to be simulated and various experiments have to be carried out. On the other hand, suitable processes for industrial production must be developed. Ion exchange in glass is chosen as the basis for the investigations, a technology that offers the possibility of integrating several functional elements on an optical chip in order to achieve very compact and robust designs. At the end of the project, the results will be transferred into an industrial production process.
For photolithography at ISAT, a laboratory with sputtering system, lacquer centrifuge, mask aligner and drying oven was set up. A workplace for ion exchange is under construction, as well as a laboratory for the optical characterization of the waveguides and a white light interferometer.