9 September 2021
Photonic-crystal surface-emitting laser (PCSEL) firm Vector Photonics Ltd (which was spun off from Scotland’s University of Glasgow in March 2020, based on research led by professor Richard Hogg) has received £600,000 for the newly awarded project TITAN (‘PhoTonIc CrysTal LAsers for EtherNet applications’), which is developing PCSELs for low-power-consumption optical interconnections between servers in hyperscale data centers.
Of the total project value, £300,000 has come from Innovate UK’s Investor Partnership Programme. This has been match-funded by private investment from UKI2S (a specialist, deep-tech seed fund for UK-based research spin-outs); the Scottish Growth Scheme (managed through Foresight Group Equity Finance); and Equity Gap (an angel syndicate investing in emerging Scottish businesses).
“The rising power usage of hyperscale data centers is being driven by escalating demand from network-connected devices, such as smartphones, PCs and the Internet of Things (IoT),” notes Vector Photonics’ CEO Neil Martin. “Hyperscale data centers currently rely on high-performance lasers for the optical interconnects between servers. These lasers require so much electrical power to operate that it is the heat they create, and the energy used by the systems which cool them, which has become the limiting factor to any increases in optical performance,” he adds.
“The TITAN project will fund the early-stage development of PCSELs, which aim to solve this major heat problem. PCSELs require only half the electrical power of the incumbent lasers, for the equivalent system performance,” Martin continues. “Less heat is produced and less energy is used for cooling. Since we anticipate the system optical performance requirements of next-generation, hyperscale data centers increasing in future, it is only low-power-consumption systems using PCSELs that can realistically facilitate this increase.”