Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Lights on for silicon photonics

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IMAGE: Scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) images of one of the Ge / SiGe heterostructures at different magnifications. SiGe layers appear darker. view more

Credit: Università Roma Tre, De Seta Group

When it comes to microelectronics, there is a chemical element like no other: silicon, the workhorse of transistor technology that drives our information society. The countless electronic devices that we use in everyday life bear witness to how today very large volumes of silicon-based components can be produced at very low cost. It therefore seems natural to use silicon also in other fields where the properties of semiconductors – such as silicon is one – are technologically exploited, and to explore ways of integrating different functionalities. Diode lasers, such as those employed in bar code scanners or laser pointers, which are typically based on gallium arsenide (GaAs) are of particular interest in this context. Unfortunately, the physical processes that create light in GaAs don’t work as well in silicon. It therefore remains an exceptional and long-standing objective to find a alternative road towards the realization of a ‘laser …

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