We propose a novel approach to realizing massively parallel optical interconnects based on commercially available multifiber ribbons with MT-type connectors and custom-designed planar-integrated free-space components. It combines the advantages of fiber optics, that is, a long range and convenient and flexible installation, with those of (planar-integrated) free-space optics, that is, a wide range of implementable functions and a high potential for integration and parallelization. For the interface between fibers and free-space optical systems a low-cost practical solution is presented. It consists of using a metal connector plate that was manufactured on a computer-controlled milling machine. Channel densities are of the order of 100/mm<sup>2</sup> between optoelectronic VLSI chips and the free-space optical systems and 1/mm<sup>2</sup> between the free-space optical systems and MT-type fiber connectors. Experiments in combination with specially designed planar-integrated test systems prove that multiple one-to-one and one-to-many interconnects can be established with not more than 10% uniformity error.
© 2001 Optical Society of America
(060.2360) Fiber optics and optical communications : Fiber optics links and subsystems
(200.0200) Optics in computing : Optics in computing
(200.4650) Optics in computing : Optical interconnects
(200.4880) Optics in computing : Optomechanics
(350.3950) Other areas of optics : Micro-optics
Matthias Gruber, Jürgen Jahns, El Mehdi El Joudi, and Stefan Sinzinger, "Practical Realization of Massively Parallel Fiber-Free-Space Optical Interconnects," Appl. Opt. 40, 2902-2908 (2001)