Researchers have taken key steps towards building a European-based silicon photonics supply chain

Researchers have taken key steps towards building a European-based silicon photonics supply chain and speeding up industrialisation of the technology.

Partners involved in the EU-funded PLAT4M project have developed new technologies to achieve the mass production of silicon photonics, which can be used to build complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) circuits.

The idea is to use silicon, patterned with sub-micrometre precision, as an optical medium in these micro components. CMOS circuits offer high noise immunity and low static power consumption, and potential end users include telecom applications and microelectronics manufacturers. Indeed, the widespread use of silicon has already brought CMOS microelectronics to mass-market applications such as Smartphones, sensors and other devices.

The concept behind the PLAT4M project, launched in October 2012, is that developing new cost effective means of producing silicon photonics will lead to a similar revolution in the photonics sector. Silicon photonics has been identified as a means of achieving optical interconnects, which provide faster data transfer both between and within microchips. As a result, the concept has been actively researched by many electronics manufacturers in recent years as well as by academic research groups.

However, most research into silicon photonics has so far focused on the elementary building blocks, rather than on fabricating complete photonic integrated circuits. In order to tap into larger markets, the PLAT4M team realised that it was necessary to demonstrate that cost effective development and manufacture of complete photonic integrated circuits was possible. This is where the project believes it can make a difference and boost the commercial potential of silicon photonics.Read more


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