Larry A. Coldren
The JTEC optoelectronics panel reviewed current optoelectronic device research and development activities, primarily in Japan, in order to identify Japan's emerging device technologies, and in turn to identify the components and technologies that are likely to be most important for future systems. A comparison of Japan's R&D activities with those of the United States gives insights into U.S. areas of strength and also into areas that might be improved.
Generally, the panel finds that Japanese companies have successfully become major suppliers of optoelectronic components in the larger markets they have targeted. In the areas in which they have research efforts, they are well-poised to proceed into development and manufacture. In fact, much of their "research" activity is really what many U.S. companies would refer to as product development. Thus, the Japanese track record in developing products from research projects tends to be good. At present, Japan's optical communications companies are focusing R&D on sources for 10-Gbit/s long-haul transmission systems and access or loop lasers for use in local distribution loops and for "fiber to the home." Also significant is an ancillary effort on high-speed receiver technology, and there is increased activity in recent years in developing analog lasers for CATV and other subcarrier multiplexing applications. For customer-based equipment, there is an emerging effort in Japan to develop interconnect lasers to support the perceived demand for multimedia applications; this is seen by some as the next major market for optoelectronic devices. Visible sources for sensing, display, plastic fiber applications, and optical memory are also receiving a lot of attention, because this broad area likewise is perceived as having major potential for future growth. The following points summarize the JTEC panel's general impressions of Japanese efforts in optoelectronic device technology:
In this overview of the state of the art in Japan, the panel has divided emerging device work into four categories: semiconductor light-emitting diodes (LEDs), lasers, semiconductor optical amplifiers ad switches, and integrated receivers. Advanced materials and processing work, which perhaps indicates the direction of longer-term future work, is a separate category.