The design, modeling, and experimental characterization of a microchannel-based free-space optical interconnect is described. The microchannel interconnect was used to implement a representative portion of an optical backplane that was based on field-effect transistor, self-electro-optic device smart-pixel transceivers. Telecentric relays were used to form the optical interconnect, and two modes based on two different optical window clusterings were implemented. The optical system design, including the optical geometry for different degrees of clustering of windows supported by a lenslet relay and the image mapping associated with a free-space optical system, is described. A comparison of the optical beam properties at the device planes, including the spot size and power uniformity of the spot array, as well as the effects of clipping and misalignment for the different operating modes, is presented. In addition, the effects of beam clipping and misalignment for the different operating modes is presented. We show that microchannel free-space optical interconnects based on a window-clustering scheme significantly increase the connection density. A connection density of 2222 connections/cm<sup>2</sup> was achieved for this prototype system with 2 × 2 window clustering.
© 1997 Optical Society of America
Yongsheng Liu, Brian Robertson, David V. Plant, H. Scott Hinton, and William M. Robertson, "Design and characterization of a microchannel optical interconnect for optical backplanes," Appl. Opt. 36, 3127-3141 (1997)