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 the efficiency of miniature light emitters (lasers or light-emitting diodes, LEDs) and in the sensitivity of photodetectors are needed for optical interconnects to be more energy-efficient than electrical interconnects; the state of the art is hundreds of fJ/bit, 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 the incorporation of optical antennas to enhance the spontaneous emission rate of LEDs, and by exploring novel approaches to alleviate tradeoffs between photodetector speed, capacitance, and optical absorption. This research entails innovation of new optoelectronic device concepts, integration of advanced materials, and IC design breakthroughs to increase the communication bandwidth of silicon photonic chips.