Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara have reported a breakthrough in chip design that integrates electronic and photonic components and could lead to smaller, lighter, more power-efficient and less expensive microsystems of the kind used in radar, communications, imaging and sensing devices.
In work funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the researchers have managed to place billions of light-emitting dots, or “quantum dots,” directly onto silicon, a process that avoids more involved and expensive procedures, DARPA said in a release. The research was done as part of DARPA’s Electronic-Photonic Heterogeneous Integration (E-PHI) program.
“It is anticipated that these E-PHI demonstrator microsystems will provide considerable performance improvement and size reduction versus state-of-the-art technologies,” Josh Conway, E-PHI’s program manager, said. “Not only can lasers be easily integrated onto silicon, but other components can as well, paving the way for advanced photonic integrated circuits with far more functionality than can be achieved today.”