Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Silicon helps light go through the right channels


Improved design of lasers on optoelectronic chips will advance optical communications

When it comes to data transmission, light is superior to electronics. An ability to transmit data in parallel by utilizing multiple light wavelengths allows optical fibers to carry more information than electrical cables.

Current computer technology uses electronics, but a new laser design based on a thin-layered silicon chip may help increase data processing capabilities.

© Olga Miltsova/Hemera/Thinkstock

Computers are currently based on electronics, but they would benefit from employing optical signals. However, for this to become a reality, it needs to be implemented on a small scale and result in low power consumption.

Now, Vivek Krishnamurthy from the A*STAR Data Storage Institute in Singapore and his colleagues have designed a laser on a microelectronic chip that has a lower power consumption and a higher efficiency1.

“By developing lasers on silicon, we can combine the electronic data processing capability of the microelectronic chip with the high energy efficiency of optical communications over distances ranging from a few micrometers within a chip to hundreds of meters in data centers,” says Krishnamurthy.

The processing speed of the microelectronic chip is limited by its power consumption; most of the power is consumed by the connecting electrical wires and links. Optical links, on the other hand, consume practically no energy but are limited by the power consumption of the light source, which is often a laser.

For optical links to be feasible on a small scale, the electrical power consumption of lasers must be reduced, yet still be able to generate sufficient optical energy for transmission.

Lasers cannot be made from silicon as it is a poor light emitter. Instead, lasers are fabricated by bonding an active material based on indium phosphide — a good light emitter — to a thin silicon film. However, because silicon is better for carrying optical signals, the light from the laser needs to be routed through the silicon chip via optical channels. This requires fabricating optical channels in silicon outside the laser region.

Generating light efficiently in the active medium and efficiently routing it via the silicon layer simultaneously reduces the electrical current required and increases the power generated. Calculations show that this silicon-based design will have a three to four times higher light generation efficiency than competing schemes.

This high efficiency makes the silicon-based laser design promising for making optical chips, which, says Krishnamurthy, is the next step for the project team. “We have begun the experimental demonstration of the laser,” he says. “Our plan is to integrate this laser onto our silicon platform and develop a fully functional photonic system for applications, for example, in data communications and storage.”

The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Data Storage Institute

Associated links

Journal information

Krishnamurthy, V., Wang, Q., Pu, J., Loh, T.-H. & Ho, S. T. Optical design of distributed feedback lasers-on-thin-film-silicon. IEEE Photonics Technology Letters 25, 944–947 (2013).

A*STAR Research | ResearchSEA News
Further information:

Further reports about: A*STAR Optical Photonics Science Silicon Storage lasers processing signals

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht TIB’s Visual Analytics Research Group to develop methods for person detection and visualisation
19.03.2018 | Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB)

nachricht Green Light for Galaxy Europe
15.03.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

A new kind of quantum bits in two dimensions

19.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists have a new way to gauge the growth of nanowires

19.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>