Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Advisor 1

Christopher Middlebrook

Committee Member 1

Michael Roggemann

Committee Member 2

Paul Bergstrom

Committee Member 3

Craig Friedrich


In this age of ever increasing data rates in communication systems, optics are becoming more commonplace for long length (>10m) signal transmission in High Performance Computing (HPC) systems due to their bandwidth capabilities which are higher than their electrical counterparts. In these optical based communication systems, Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VCSELs) are the most commonly used communications lasing medium for multimode fiber applications. These lasers are active in the 850 nm region, with speeds commonly at 10 Gbps/channel. VCSEL vendors are now commercializing lasers at 25 Gbps/channel as well, with research groups actively pursuing rates beyond 40 Gbps/channel, demonstrating that these communications technologies will likely be continuously incorporated in multiple generations of HPC systems.

For optical based signaling technologies, fiber optics are typically utilized as the medium of choice for point to point contacts due to their low loss characteristics, stability to thermal degradation and aging, and manufacturability. Fiber optics have become a commodity, making them inexpensive. However, the high precision connection technologies required to bring light off of VSCELS and fiber to fiber are still rather expensive, limiting some of the optical applications in products. Polymer waveguides offer the promise to act as an enabling technology to provide highly complex optical routing that can be passively connected, lowering system costs and allowing next generation systems to be optically driven. For this to become a reality, polymer waveguide materials must meet multiple requirements in the communications industry.

The focus of this thesis is on the understanding and optimization of the manufacturing requirements of polymer waveguide materials, their optical stability to existing standards such as Telecordia, and the impacts that printed circuit board processes have on them.