An Optical Backplane Connection System with Pluggable Active Board Interfaces

R. Pitwon, K. Hopkins, and D. Milward (UK)


Optical backplane, Transceivers, Optical interconnect, Optical waveguides, Active and Passive components


One of the key obstacles to the proliferation of optical printed circuit board technology has been the development of a reliable method of plugging daughtercards into an optical backplane without compromising the high mechanical alignment tolerances inherent to conventional multimode optical waveguides. In this paper an optical backplane connection system is described, which allows for repeatable docking and undocking of an active optical interface housed on a daughtercard to the waveguide interface of an optical backplane. This comprises a parallel optical transceiver circuit, a self-aligning optical interface and a connector mechanism. The transceiver is capable of supporting data rates of 10.3 Gigabits per second on each of four duplex channels. The transceiver circuit is constructed on a flexible material such that the optical interface floats with respect to the daughtercard, thus allowing the critical optical connection to remain immune to displacements between daughtercard and backplane. A connection mechanism controls the engagement and disengagement of the transceiver with the optical backplane. Finally we constructed an optical backplane system comprising a passive optical printed circuit board, two daughter cards and the proposed connection system. The system was successfully characterized with respect to 10.3 Gbps board-to-board data exchange.

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