FAQs

Are your materials available for purchase today?

NLM has materials available today under academic or commercial R&D licenses or production licenses. While we maintain inventory of some materials, such as our flagship HLD, other materials are produced on demand, which may take 30-90 days depending on amount and complexity.

Isn't Silicon "Good Enough"?

Silicon electro optic devices have been built and are in production but at a high cost of silicon real estate, power and limited speed as compared to hybrid devices utilizing NLM materials. As the datacenters move from 400G to 800G or 1.2T, larger arrays of power hungry silicon modulators and more complex digital signal processing circuitry is required. Utilizing NLM materials enables faster channels (less signal processing complexity), much smaller devices, and tighter integration with electronics, enabling transformative growth that could skip generations in the network hardware roadmap.

Are there other electro-optic materials?

Other electro-optic materials exist and are commercially used. These are typically crystalline compounds such as lithium niobate that are power hungry, physically large and presently used for making fiber optic components. But they are difficult to integrate directly on chips, a key driver needed for the developmentof the electro-optics market. These materials also have very little room for performance improvement unlike NLM's materials that are engineered for specific applications.

What is the temperature stability of NLM's OEO materials?

Commercial OEO materials can operate at datacenter "extended temperature" specifications of -40 °C-85 °C. They have also demonstrated long-term stability at these temperatures and with appropriate encapsulation technologies can withstand aggressive conditions such as damp heat (85C and 85% relative humidity). NLM materials are available which are capable of withstanding short exposures to temperatures in excess of 200°C during processing, packaging and bonding processes compatible with other organics like OLEDs.

What is Optical Computing ? How is it different from what we know today ?

Currently, computers rely on electrical signals flowing through transistors to perform logical computing processes. In optical computing, the electrical signals are replaced by photons (light), which can travel through many materials with little loss or interference, enabling much faster (100s of GHz to THz) operations and substantial reduction in power use. Optical interconnects can move data from one part of a system to another with little loss or any amplifcation. Optical transistors can be used to create the logic elements used for computing components. Electro-optic devices bridge the electronic and optical domains, allowing both types of components to be used on a single chip and leveraging the biggest advantages of both optical computing and conventional CMOS electronics.

Why are you called "Nonlinear Materials" ?

When light encounters most materials, it can interact with the material and be reflected, refracted (bent), or absorbed (e.g. causing the material to appear a particular color). However, photons of light do not substantially interact with each other. However, some materials have properties that allow light to interact within them; such materials are called nonlinear materials because this interaction makes absorbance, refraction, etc. no longer a linear property of the intensity of light. There are many kinds of nonlinear optical effects. NLM presently focuses on the Pockels effect in which a change in voltage (e.g. radio waves or digital data) changes the speed of light travelling through a material. However, there are other effects such as Optical Rectification (light inducing a voltage without being absorbed) or the Optical Kerr Effect (photons of light changing the speed of light in a material) which are as well of interest to NLM.