The design, implementation and characterisation of an electro-optical backplane and an active pluggable in-plane optical connector technology is presented. The connection architecture adopted allows line cards to be mated to and unmated from a passive electro-optical backplane with embedded polymeric waveguides. The active connectors incorporate a photonics interface operating at 850 nm and a mechanism to passively align the interface to the optical waveguides embedded in the backplane. A demonstration platform has been constructed to assess the viability of embedded electro-optical backplane technology in dense data storage systems. The demonstration platform includes four switch cards, which connect both optically and electronically to the electro-optical backplane in a chassis. These switch cards are controlled by a single board computer across a Compact PCI bus on the backplane. The electrooptical backplane is comprised of copper layers for power and low speed bus communication and one polymeric optical layer, wherein waveguides have been patterned by a direct laser writing scheme. The optical waveguide design includes densely arrayed multimode waveguides with a centre to centre pitch of 250μm between adjacent channels, multiple cascaded waveguide bends, non-orthogonal crossovers and in-plane connector interfaces. In addition, a novel passive alignment method has been employed to simplify high precision assembly of the optical receptacles on the backplane. The in-plane connector interface is based on a two lens free space coupling solution, which reduces susceptibility to contamination. Successful transfer of 10.3 Gb/s data along multiple waveguides in the electro-optical backplane has been demonstrated and characterised
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