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The ever-increasing demand for higher data transfer bit rates at a lower cost and power entails state-of-the art data communication methods. There is no way around optical interconnections. This highly reliable fiber-based technology allows data transmission with a bandwidth in the GHz regime over long distances and without cross-talk.

The use of optical communication has expanded exponentially and has played a critical role in the growth of the Internet, network systems, cable TV and telecommunication. Multi-mode VCSELs (vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers) are critical to a wide range of applications with distances of up to 300 meters. That's because they offer tangible benefits such as low bias current and high yields, lowering power consumption and cost. TRUMPF is the right supplier for a long-term business relationship, providing VCSEL and photodiode solutions. 

What is optical communication?

Modern optical communication is enabled by transmitting an encoded optical signal using a light source such as a VCSEL and receiving it at the other end using a photodetector, at which point it is decoded for information transmission. Optical fiber is the prevalent means of forming a link for the optical transmission. 

How does optical communication work?

A fiber optic communication link is comprised of a transceiver at each end of a fiber cable of a desired length. The transmitter part of the transceiver encodes and transmits the light signal through the fiber optic cable while the receiver part of the transceiver receives the light signal and decodes it into an electrical signal.

For lower data rate, the optical signal is modulated as an NRZ signal but for higher data rate, typically over 25 Gbps, PAM4 modulation is used. The performances of the whole link and its individual components are evaluated based on various parameters such as the optical eye, the bit error rate (BER), small signal and large signal performance. Power dissipation is also a key performance parameter. In addition, the optical communication components are to be compliant to specific standards.

How VCSEL and photodiodes are used in fiber optical communication


An optical transceiver is a device that has the dual functionality of transmitting and receiving an optical signal and converting it from and into an electrical signal. At the heart of the transmission part is the VCSEL, where an electrical signal is converted into an optical signal before being transmitted through an optical fiber. On the receiving side, the reverse takes place with the help of a photodiode. The transceivers are typically plugged in to a switch, a router or NIC card modules and as such are a part of the bigger system.


An active optical cable (AOC) is an assembly of an optical fiber of a given length with a transceiver attached to each end of it. This link is pre-optimized for the given length which makes it easier for the user, as it requires less effort to optimize once it is plugged-in as a link. 

Consumer cables

Consumer cables and I/O ports are designed to connect the consumer products such as television and desktop computers to transfer data over fiber optic cables. Depending on the end application, VCSELs and photodiodes are used in design of HDMI, Thunderbolt, USB or micro-USB cables.

What are applications and advantages of fiber optic communication?

Telecommunication over optical fiber offers secure, high-quality and cost-effective means of transferring massive volumes of data over short and long distances. Inside data centers fiber optic communication is used to transfer data between storage, to servers, switches and routers. Moreover, the explosive growth in services for the end users such as high speed Internet, HD cable television, streaming video services, live video conferences, tele-medicine and remote work is made possible by lasers and photodiodes.

Free of interference

Fiber optic communication is immune to environmental electromagnetic interference (EMI).
Therefore optical transmission via fiber optical cables with VCSEL and photodiode components is more robust than wireless transmission.

High speed data transmission

Broadband is based on fiber optic communication, which enables higher rates of data transfer. VCSELs and photodiodes support up to 100 Gbps.

Secure communication

In fiber optic communication, since the data is transferred over the fiber, it is less susceptible to interference and to the tempering of the information being transmitted.
High quality data is delivered only to the intended user which is critical in applications such as aerospace or finance. 

TRUMPF VCSELs and photodiodes for optical communication

Modern datacom applications require state of the art optical components

TRUMPF Photonic Components is a well-respected source of VCSELs and photodiodes for optical data communication over fiber optical cable. Having shipped more than 2 billion optical devices in the datacom, sensing and industrial heating fields, TRUMPF brings the technical knowledge and manufacturing expertise to not only deliver high quality products but also to provide strong application support to our customers.

Customized products

In addition to standard solutions, customized solutions can also be developed, e.g. in terms of array format, chip layout, emission wavelength, solder bumps or bottom-emission.

Products that exceed industry standards

Our VCSEL and photodiode solutions conform to appropriate industry standards such as IEEE. The components offer excellent performance and reliability. 

High reliability

Our components are tested to ensure excellent reliability. Application tests show a long lifetime under extreme conditions for the VCSELs and photodiodes.


TRUMPF datacom VCSELs meet the highest requirements for performance, efficiency and reliability. They are fully passivated for complete protection of GaAs chip designed with enhanced mechanical protection for the mesa.


TRUMPF has a long heritage and strong track record in photodiode design with high performance and reliability. Our photodiodes feature very low dark current and an additional ground pad for better shielding, which also provides a ground-signal or signal-ground option for mounting.

Our senior application manager Jeroen Dragt showcases an application with TRUMPF 56G VSCEL and photodiode

Eye diagram

Eye diagram showing high quality of data transmission of a TRUMPF VCSEL operating at a data rate of 25 Gbit/s at 90°C.

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TRUMPF photodiodes

TRUMPF high-speed photodiodes meet the most stringent demands in terms of power, efficiency and reliability. They are available for data rates of up to 100 Gbps, respectively as a 1x1 chip or 1x4 or 1x12 array.


TRUMPF high-speed VCSELs enable reliable data transmission with low power input at the same time. The product portfolio comprises single emitters as well as VCSEL arrays for data rates of up to 100 Gbps.

TRUMPF VCSEL lasers support all conventional protocols
Data communication

What role do VCSEL and photodiodes play in data communication? Find out on this page why these two technologies are the right solution for our modern high-speed internet and all the audiovisual applications that come along with it, such as HD/4K television and streaming services.

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