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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Integrating photonics with silicon nanoelectronics for the next generation of systems on a chip.

  • Author(s): Atabaki, Amir H
  • Moazeni, Sajjad
  • Pavanello, Fabio
  • Gevorgyan, Hayk
  • Notaros, Jelena
  • Alloatti, Luca
  • Wade, Mark T
  • Sun, Chen
  • Kruger, Seth A
  • Meng, Huaiyu
  • Al Qubaisi, Kenaish
  • Wang, Imbert
  • Zhang, Bohan
  • Khilo, Anatol
  • Baiocco, Christopher V
  • Popović, Miloš A
  • Stojanović, Vladimir M
  • Ram, Rajeev J
  • et al.

Electronic and photonic technologies have transformed our lives-from computing and mobile devices, to information technology and the internet. Our future demands in these fields require innovation in each technology separately, but also depend on our ability to harness their complementary physics through integrated solutions1,2. This goal is hindered by the fact that most silicon nanotechnologies-which enable our processors, computer memory, communications chips and image sensors-rely on bulk silicon substrates, a cost-effective solution with an abundant supply chain, but with substantial limitations for the integration of photonic functions. Here we introduce photonics into bulk silicon complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) chips using a layer of polycrystalline silicon deposited on silicon oxide (glass) islands fabricated alongside transistors. We use this single deposited layer to realize optical waveguides and resonators, high-speed optical modulators and sensitive avalanche photodetectors. We integrated this photonic platform with a 65-nanometre-transistor bulk CMOS process technology inside a 300-millimetre-diameter-wafer microelectronics foundry. We then implemented integrated high-speed optical transceivers in this platform that operate at ten gigabits per second, composed of millions of transistors, and arrayed on a single optical bus for wavelength division multiplexing, to address the demand for high-bandwidth optical interconnects in data centres and high-performance computing3,4. By decoupling the formation of photonic devices from that of transistors, this integration approach can achieve many of the goals of multi-chip solutions 5 , but with the performance, complexity and scalability of 'systems on a chip'1,6-8. As transistors smaller than ten nanometres across become commercially available 9 , and as new nanotechnologies emerge10,11, this approach could provide a way to integrate photonics with state-of-the-art nanoelectronics.

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