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Breakthrough brings optoelectronic devices on silicon closer to reality


Toronto, ON – The Canadian Institute of Photonic Innovations (CIPI) says that a team of scientists from the University of Toronto working in collaboration with colleagues at Friedrich-Schiller University Jena, Germany have developed a laser-processing technique that enables light waves to be guided through silicon, the semiconducting material used for electronic components.

While such micron-sized waveguide structures have already been written in glass, this is the first time that scientists have succeeded in fabricating them in silicon. The breakthrough holds promise of soon linking electronic signals to optical ones on the same silicon chip and facilitating mass production of optoelectronic devices.

This scientific achievement is part of worldwide efforts to enhance the capabilities of electronic circuitry by introducing devices that exploit the large bandwidth and wavelength distribution of light. Such optoelectronic devices have the potential of revolutionizing important application areas such as precision manufacturing, telecommunications, biological and medical analyses and microsensing. This type of optical circuitry has been made possible through the novel interactions driven by a femtosecond laser.

The results reported by the research team are already attracting industrial attention. CIPI says a leading chip maker has expressed an interest in applying this newly developed technology to produce a new generation of integrated electronic-photonic chips.

Funded in part by CIPI, the research that led to this breakthrough was performed by University of Toronto PhD candidate Amir H Nejadmalayeri under the supervision of professor Peter R Herman.