Process Produces CMOS-Compatible Laser, 10Gb/s Silicon Modulator

CEA-Leti, coordinator of the European HELIOS project to accelerate commercialization of silicon photonics, and its project partners demonstrated a laser and a 10Gb/s silicon modulator using a process that’s compatible with CMOS techniques. The project, in its second year, is involved in developing a number of building blocks and processes in the silicon-photonics movement.

Silicon photonics is an emerging technology for overcoming electrical connections’ limits in processing increasingly data-rich content. It also helps reduce the cost of photonic systems by integrating optical and electronic functions on the same chip. Ultimately, the technology could translate into low-cost solutions for a range of applications, such as optical communications, chip-to-chip and rack-to-rack connections, data-center cables, optical signal processing, optical sensing, and biological applications.

The laser was fabricated by bonding a III-V material (indium phosphide) on top of a CMOS wafer and then processing it using the same equipment as in microelectronics production. As for the 10Gb/s silicon modulator, it was demonstrated with an extinction ratio of 7dB. The consortium has already designed a 40Gb/s version, which is currently under fabrication. First characterization results are expected next year.

 “The capability of manufacturing optical components within the CMOS-processing infrastructure is key to realizing the potential of silicon photonics,” says Laurent Fulbert, photonics programs manager at Leti and coordinator of HELIOS. “The HELIOS partners are focused on bringing this technology to foundries and component manufacturers for high-volume applications.”

Other building blocks under development by the HELIOS partners include a light modulator, passive waveguides, and photodetectors.

Further results recently emanating from the project include demonstration of high responsivity (0.8-1A/W), low dark current and high BW photodiodes (up to 130GHz); efficient passive waveguides (mux/demux, polarization diversity circuit, fiber coupling, rib/strip transition); establishment of a photonics design flow; and an investigation of novel concepts for light emission and modulation.

In addition to Leti, the HELIOS partners are:
• IMEC (Belgium)
• CNRS (France)
• Alcatel Thales III-V lab (France)
• University of Surrey (UK)
• IMM (Italy)
• University of Paris-Sud (France)
• Technical University of Valencia (Spain)
• University of Trento (Italy)
• University of Barcelona (Spain)
• 3S Photonics (France)
• IHP (Germany)
• Berlin University of Technology (Germany)
• Thales (France)
• DAS Photonics (Spain)
• Austriamicrosystems AG (Austria)
• Technical University of Vienna (Austria)
• Phoenix BV (Netherlands)
• Photline Technologies (France)

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