Silicon photonics MEMS switch (Wu group)
Photonics and Optical Interconnects
Silicon photonics technology is rapidly being adopted for high-speed communication between servers within data centers because optical signals can propagate faster and with better energy efficiency than voltage signals. Light also can be used to transmit data across a chip, through silicon microstructures which act as waveguides. However, significant improvements in various optical components (including the efficiency of miniature light emitters, sensitivity of photodetectors, speed of optical switches, efficiency of waveguide couplers, etc.) are needed for optical interconnects and systems to overtake electrical interconnects. For example, in terms of energy-efficiency, the current state-of-the-art is hundreds of fJ/bit, which is orders of magnitude greater than the quantum limit of 20 aJ/bit. BETR Center researchers from the groups of Professors Ali Javey, Vladimir Stojanović, Ming Wu,and Eli Yablonovitch are addressing these needs by investigating new lights sources such as optical antenna-enhanced LEDs, and by exploring novel approaches to alleviate tradeoffs between photodetector speed, capacitance, and optical absorption, by researching new materials for optoelectronic components, and by revolutionizing random-access optical beam steering systems.