Electronics and light don’t go well together on a standard ‘CMOS’ chip. Researcher Satadal Dutta of the University of Twente succeeded in introducing a light connection into the heart of a semiconductor chip. In this way, two circuits can communicate. Or: the worlds of electronics and photonics are connected.
What is particularly attractive about Dutta’s solution is that no special materials or manufacturing processes are needed: the light comes from silicon. The light source, detector and the light channel can be made using the technology that is used to make the electronic circuits. Fully optical circuits are available nowadays, but they use materials like indium phosphide and gallium arsenide, which can’t easily be combined with the CMOS chip processes used for semiconductor chips you’ll find in today’s smartphones, for example.
The alternative would be: make a LED out of silicon. And that’s the problem: silicon only emits a tiny amount of infrared light, while a detector made out of silicon needs visible light. They are talking and listening at different wavelengths. Dutta therefore chooses a remarkable way out: connect the LED reverse. At low voltages, there’s no current, but at a voltage that is high enough, there will be a small current that amplifies itself like an avalanche. In this ‘avalanche mode’, the LED will transmit visible light. Using the same process, the light detector, as well as the light channel in-between can be made. Thanks to the special comb structure that Dutta designed, the light source gets more uniform and energy efficient.
An optical link on a chip is a good way to ‘galvanically’ isolate two circuits from each other. This is often necessary in cases where one circuit is a low-voltage and low-current one, while the other is a high-power circuit. They should be connected, but not by conducting wires, for reasons of safety. A classic transformer is an option then, but an optical connection is often used as well. Until now, this is a separate ‘optocoupler’, which is large and has a limited bit rate. Dutta’s new solution is much more compact as an alternative: it total, it is just a few tens of microns and it offers the protection that’s needed. Compared to optical channels in full-optical circuits, the energy consumption is relatively high, as there is quite some scattering of light. On the other hand: designing the electronics around the optical link in an efficient way, the amount of light needed for a successful connection, can be kept to a minimum.
All-optical circuits may become the ‘new electronics’, predictions say. In the transition from electronic to optic circuits, hybrid circuits, like the one Dutta designed, could play an important role.
The Latest on: Electronics and photonics
- IPG Photonics Caps Off a Laser-Hot Year on February 21, 2018 at 7:42 am
High-powered laser-maker IPG Photonics Corporation (NASDAQ ... The company expects lower growth in its consumer electronics markets, but IPG believes that will be offset by stronger worldwide adoption of its technology. For the first quarter, the company ... […]
- New DARPA Programs Focus on Quantum Coherence, Biological Sensors, and Epigenome Readers on February 21, 2018 at 3:58 am
Digital tattoos are an interesting implementation of an new category of "flexible electronics." They stick to the skin and can be used for... Georgia Tech's Center for Organic Photonics and Electronics (COPE) has made a large improvement of the operation ... […]
- Research details developments in the Global vertical farming/plant factory market forecast from 2018 to 2025 on February 20, 2018 at 3:40 am
Key companies profiled in this report are Aerofarms, Aizufujikako Co., Ltd., Everlight Electronics, Genesis Photonics (Gpi), Gotham Greens, Granpa Co., Ltd., Hon Hai, Hydrofarm, Inventec, Iwasaki Electric, Jgc, Jingpeng Solar Powered Plant Factory ... […]
- IPG Photonics (IPGP) Q4 Earnings and Revenues Beat Estimates on February 19, 2018 at 7:11 am
IPG Photonics Corporation (IPGP - Free Report ... The company also benefited from dramatic rise in QCW laser sales, primarily related to consumer electronics welding applications. Sales in Europe and the United States increased 18% and 16%, respectively ... […]
- IPG Photonics (IPGP) Tops Q4 Revenue Estimates on February 16, 2018 at 6:31 am
IPG Photonics (NASDAQ: IPGP) reported Q4 EPS of $1.86 ... and strong worldwide macroeconomic conditions offset by lower spending related to consumer electronics applications. Based on the accelerating growth within our business in 2017, we expect capital ... […]
- Intevac Expands Its Board of Directors With Appointment of Two New Independent Directors on February 16, 2018 at 5:00 am
Prior to 3D Glass, in 2017 Popovich was chief strategy officer of Semblant, Inc., a start-up specializing in waterproof nano-coatings for consumer electronics products ... Thin-film Equipment and Photonics. In our Thin-film Equipment business, we are ... […]
- Global Nanophotonics Market Will Reach USD 66.03 Billion by 2022: Zion Market Research on February 16, 2018 at 3:47 am
In order to achieve faster data transmission speed and higher bandwidth, many manufacturers are implementing nanophotonic technology by integrating photonics and electronics on the same chip. However, the high cost of raw materials, difficulty in ... […]
- Global Market for Carbon Nanomaterials 2018-2027: Focus on Carbon Nanotubes, Graphene, 2D Materials and Nanodiamonds on February 15, 2018 at 10:55 am
flexible and wearable electronics, sensors, photonics and electrochemical energy storage devices that will have an immense impact on our society. Graphene is a ground-breaking two-dimensional (2D) material that possesses extraordinary electrical and ... […]
- Optics the key challenge for AR, VR and mixed reality evolution on February 9, 2018 at 9:23 am
Unlike electronics, optics does not follow Moore's law ... By way of explanation, he added, "The companies represented at this Photonics West conference are attempting to provide the ultimate MR user experience in terms of wearable comfort, visual comfort ... […]
via Google News and Bing News