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Integrating Optical Components Into Existing Chip Designs

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Optoelectronic chips.

A team of researchers from several universities reports the development of a technique for assembling on-chip optics and electronics separately on chip, using only existing manufacturing processes.

Credit: Ameri Atabaki

An assembly method using existing manufacturing processes to combine on-chip optics and electronics separately has been developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of California, Berkeley, and Boston University.

"The most promising thing about this work is that you can optimize your photonics independently from your electronics," says MIT's Amir Atabaki.

The chip features all the elements needed for optical communication, including modulators, waveguides, resonators, and photodetectors.

The breakthrough facilitates the direct deposition of silicon on top of glass, requiring the use of polysilicon comprised of many small silicon crystals. Large-crystal polysilicon efficiently conducts electricity, but tends to scatter light and reduce optical efficiency; small-crystal polysilicon scatters light less, but is less conductive.

The researchers tested out a series of recipes for polysilicon deposition, varying the type of raw silicon utilized, processing temperatures, and times, until they found a technique that offered a good tradeoff between electronic and optical characteristics.

From MIT News
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