Researchers have developed a new method to integrate optical components into existing chips, according to a study conducted on April 19, 2018.
This study was conducted by a team of 18 researchers from MIT, Berkeley, and Boston University. This new technique enables the use of more modern transistor technologies and only requires manufacturing processes that are existing. Photonics from electronics can be independently optimized with the help of this technique.
By moving from electrical communication to optical communication, chip manufacturers could increase the speed of chip and power consumption can also be reduced. This is an advantage, as demand for chips’ transistor is increasing. Power consumption will be reduced to a large extent by integrating optical and electronic components on the same chip unlike the optical communications devices that are available at present. A commercial modulator consumes 10 to 100 times more power when compared to the modulators built into the newly developed chip. Space required by the chip is also more in commercial modulators.
Amir Atabaki, a research scientist at MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics said, “We have access to photonic architectures that you can’t normally use without integrated electronics. For example, today there is no commercial optical transceiver that uses optical resonators, because you need considerable electronics capability to control and stabilize that resonator.” The new chip includes all the components necessary for optical communication, which includes modulators, waveguides that steer light across the chip, resonators that helps in the separation of different wavelengths of light, each of which can carry different data, and photodetectors that helps in the translation of incoming light signals back into electrical signals. Researchers found the right material after going through over 50 silicon wafers.