Hollow Plastic Waveguide ("Wave Cable") Based High Speed And Low Power Data Center Inter-Server Link

Tech ID: 28981 / UC Case 2013-203-0


UCLA researchers in the department of Electrical Engineering have developed a novel and inexpensive plastic interconnect for high efficiency communication within data centers.


The market for high-performance computing is expected to reach $44 billion by 2020. As the demand for high performance tasks in all fields continues to grow, high-speed and efficient communication between computers will be key. Currently, interconnects link servers together by either fiber optic or copper-based active cable. Plastic alternatives have been developed but can be slow or inefficient due to energy dispersion and loss. As the market continues to grow, novel materials and designs for data server interconnects with better energy efficiency will be valuable in high-power computing.


UCLA researchers have developed a power-efficient plastic interconnect for data center server communications. The hollow plastic waveguide is inexpensive and easy to manufacture, compared to commercially available interconnects which are either fiber optic or copper cables. This novel design and composition is a low-loss and low-dispersion guiding channel that is 5x more energy efficient than the Thunderbolt standard. Additionally, the interconnect offers higher system stability by removing mechanical connectors from electrical cables and eliminating optical/electrical conversion.


Connecting servers in data centers


  • Novel design and composition has low loss and dispersion
  • Plastic material is inexpensive and easy to manufacture
  • Higher system stability by removing mechanical connectors and optical/electrical conversion
  • 5x more energy efficient than Thunderbolt standard

State Of Development

Prototype has been developed and successful use has been demonstrated.

Related Materials

  • Y. Kim, L. Nan, J. Cong, and M.-C. Frank Chang, "Hollow Plastic Cable and mm-Wave CMOS Transceiver Enabled High-Speed and Energy-Efficient Data Link for Short Distance Communications", IEEE Microwave and Wireless Components Letters (MWCL), 23(12):674-686, Dec. 2013

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Issued Patent 9,917,342 03/13/2018 2013-203


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  • Chang, Mau-Chung Frank

Other Information


Data center, inter-server communication, interconnect, wave cable

Categorized As