TEC Design Considerations

June 13, 2019

The optical transceiver market has experienced significant growth in recent years, and all signs point to that trend continuing for the near future. Globally, industry revenue is expected to reach $10.7B by 2024, a CAGR of 10.1%. Markets Insider reports that much of this growth is driven by data centers shifting to 100G/200G/400G capabilities.

Market Challenges

All of this growth means that data warehouses need to be outfitted with more optical components than ever to support data transfer at such a large magnitude. The lasers, detectors, and other critical optical components within transceivers will all need to be cooled. Without proper thermoelectric cooling, fiber optic networks could experience wavelength shift and other challenges, leading to signal loss, service interruptions and poor network performance.

Optical component cooling needs to be cost effective, so companies can remain competitive within the market, but it can’t sacrifice on performance. Reliability, peak performance even at high I-temp ranges and low power consumption are all important factors that may be impacted by your thermoelectric cooler (TEC) solution.

Considerations for TEC Design

There are 5 key considerations for balancing cost and performance in effective TEC design:

  • Efficiency: Power efficiency should be increased across every part of the package, starting with the TEC, which is often one of the largest power consumers in a laser package. Lower power consumption targets are being driven by more stringent MSA specs, so it’s a critical design goal. If power budgets are tight, a lower power consumption TEC could actually improve TOSA yields, thereby reducing overall package costs.
  • Heat pumping density: The latest trends are moving towards smaller footprint package designs, such as QSFP-DD and OSFP. With power consumption ratings at greater than 10W in these packages, we’re seeing increases in heat dissipation density. Packages now need to pump up to 1W in just a few square millimeters, so a higher heat pumping density from the TEC is critical.
  • Reliability: You need solutions that are already proven to perform in real-world conditions in the field and pass critical reliability targets. You should also look for TECs that are assembled in an automated manufacturing facility that is modeled after semiconductor manufacturing processes, allowing you to scale quickly into production.
  • Expertise in Sub-component Design: The right TEC manufacturer has the deep expertise needed to know exactly how to leverage the elements of a TEC to achieve desired specs and optimize COP (coefficient of performance). This approach takes into account the device size and thickness, parasitic temperature deltas, how processing temperature range impacts overall design, the challenges or benefits of different integration options and choosing the right BOM components so that the right balance of performance and part cost can be achieved.
  • Customization & Innovation: Don’t settle for standard solutions only. You should look for a TEC manufacturer who will partner with you on customized, application-specific configurations such as designing patterned metallization for ceramic plates, eliminating a complicated laser subassembly. And with so much change facing the optical transceiver industry, it’s not enough to look for solutions that work within today’s parameters, or even the next 5-10 years. Companies should look for manufacturers who are dedicated to evolving the industry and developing new solutions for future applications, such as non-hermetic laser packages or the connected technologies of tomorrow, including 5G and 3D sensing.

The right TEC partner delivers on all of these considerations. The ideal TEC solution is tested and proven, with low power consumption and high heat pumping density for shrinking form factors. Read more about Phononic’s TECs for every laser package type, including TO cans, box TOSAs and pump lasers.