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Silicon Photonics Awarded Major Research Funding

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has awarded a grant valued at £5m to a consortium of researchers in the UK, led by the University of Surrey, to work on Silicon Photonics.

This is the largest current grant awarded by the EPSRC through responsive mode in the Photonics area as the EPSRC moves towards encouraging the community to use larger, longer responsive mode grants.

The consortium, led by Professor Graham Reed and Dr Goran Mashanovich, both from the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI), University of Surrey, includes researchers from St Andrews University (led by Professor Thomas Krauss), Leeds University (led by Dr Robert Kelsall), Warwick University (led by Dr David Leadley), and Southampton University (led by Dr Graham Ensell). Industrial representation within the consortium comes from QinetiQ (led by Professor Mike Jenkins) and from Intel (led by Dr Mario Paniccia).

Silicon Photonics promises to revolutionise the next generation of integrated circuits ICs by providing solutions for optical interconnections between chips and circuit boards, optical signal processing, optical sensing, and the “lab-on-a-chip” biological applications. It is also expected to provide low-cost optical signal processing chips that will interface with optical fibres brought directly to the home that can take advantages of the enormous bandwidth of Fibre To The Premise (FTTP) technology. Services such as video-on-demand, high speed internet, high definition TV and IPTV, that require large bandwidths, may also expand dramatically as a result of this work. Silicon is the material of choice for the microelectronics industry, partly due to the cost effective way in which it can be processed. Therefore, integrating both optical functionality and electrical intelligence into the same silicon chip is expected to deliver a cost advantage as compared to more conventional optical technologies.

The consortium will contribute to the “second silicon revolution” by building on early successes that have already been demonstrated by the partners. Reed, Krauss and Ensell have all been pioneering silicon photonic technology for more than a decade and their expertise coupled with complementary expertise of the UK consortium members and of the Intel team in Santa Clara, USA is likely to result in significant, industrially relevant breakthroughs in Silicon Photonics.

Professor Reed emphasised the importance of the grant by stating, “We are delighted that the EPSRC has given us this exciting opportunity to contribute to the development of Silicon Photonics to a level where it can have a positive impact upon people’s lives. As a team we are committed to providing technology suitable for industrial take-up.”

Professor Ravi Silva, Director of the Advanced Technology Institute said, “The ATI prides itself in providing industrially relevant solutions based on pioneering fundamental research. This consortium of researchers has the potential to provide the next photonic superchip that will form the backbone to the next generation semiconductor industry.”

The ATI at the University of Surrey will be holding an Open Day to celebrate five years of operations on Monday, December 3. For more details please visit

Stuart Miller | alfa
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