Case studies

Circuits of light in silicon

Researchers at the Zepler Institute are developing silicon photonic circuits to enable the next generation of computer chips and support the massive increase in internet usage.

Tomorrow’s computers will need to use photons instead of electrons if they are to keep pace with demand for computing speed and low power. Silicon photonics is seen as the most likely candidate for inter-chip and perhaps even intra-chip communications. It also promises applications in data centre interconnect, fibre-to-the-home transceivers, high performance computing interconnect and as a platform for lab-on-a-chip sensors.

Despite its potential, there are several major challenges that need to be tackled before silicon photonics can become a commercial reality, including wafer-scale testing, multi-layer photonics, passive alignment, scaling up to Tbit/s and low-cost lasers on a chip.

Researchers in the Silicon Photonics group are working to solve these problems and to develop commercial processes that will enable the mass manufacturing of silicon photonic devices. They were the first in the world to develop a 50 Gbit/s silicon modulator and to fabricate the erasable coupling gratings that will facilitate wafer-scale testing of silicon photonic devices, an important step towards commercialising this revolutionary platform.

For more information visit the Silicon Photonics Group website.