Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Brightening the future for optical circuits

Abstract:
By working together to share costs and know-how, European researchers are shaking up the way research and development is carried out on optical chips.

Brightening the future for optical circuits

Europe | Posted on October 7th, 2008

Optics has come a long way since the 1960s. Today, it is more than just light research. The field of photonics now deals with the science and technology of light, its fundamental properties, how it interacts with other matter, and the technological applications of this.

Photonics technology is playing an increasingly important role in our everyday technology, including displays and cameras, the fibre optics of the internet, optical recording devices such as DVDs, and power-producing solar cells.

"With the invention of the laser and the optical fibre, as well as the development of a host of many different new optical materials, such as semiconductors and liquid crystals, an exponential growth of knowledge and technology has been created," says Roel Baets, coordinator of the ePIXnet network.

"Photonics may well become for the 21st century what electronics has been to the 20th," he posits.

Key to the advances in electronics was the microchip, and this is the direction that photonics is taking. Photonic chips use light to communicate and process information, and are manufactured in much the same way as their electronic counterparts.

Some digital cameras and DVD players already contain photonic chips, albeit very simple versions. "In the future, it is expected that photonic chips will become complex and smart," says Baets who is a professor in the Department of Information Technology (INTEC) at Ghent University, as well as being associated with the microelectronics research centre IMEC.

But as the technology advances, so do the costs to research this field. Long gone are the days when one group could afford all the fancy tools for independent in-house research.

The EU-funded ePIXnet was set up in 2004 to establish an open-access Network of Excellence making it possible for researchers across Europe to access advanced technologies in other institutes.

"Not only does this call for a well-documented, transparent and affordable access model to somebody else's infrastructure, it also calls for trust building," says Baets. "This is what ePIXnet is about."

By sharing technologies, the costs become more affordable. This is complemented by more joint research and collaboration, and a higher research output.
Visible results

To facilitate the opening up of research institutes, ePIXnet has started to set up technology platforms. Seven platforms in all have been launched: four focusing on chip manufacture, and three on design and simulation, packaging, and testing.

"The basic idea is that these platforms will somehow become self-sustainable - in the sense that there is real demand by users who bring in sufficient financial resources to sustain the operation," says Baets. "Even if the network is not finished yet, it already looks as if at least some of these platforms will indeed become self-sustainable."

Among the four platforms looking at chip manufacture, the ePIXfab platform will be self-sustainable by autumn 2008. This platform is providing a cost-effective service for the fabrication of prototype photonic chips in silicon through the use of the same mainstream technologies being applied to electronic integrated circuits - CMOS circuits as they are called.

Again, photonics is following the trail blazed by micro-electronics and adopting the so-called ‘fabless' approach whereby the photonics company focuses on the design, packaging and system integration, while the actual wafer fabrication takes place in third-party foundries offering generic technologies.

ePIXfab organises three "shuttle runs" per year, fabricating 10 to 20 designs in a cost-sharing way. The cost sharing can be as much as 80 to 90 percent, says Pieter Dumon, the full-time coordinator of ePIXfab, compared to the cost of a single processing run for the current technology.

"The cost sharing is the only means to make silicon photonics affordable for academic and industrial research groups and small and medium-sized enterprises," he says.

Self-sustainability is achievable because the full costs of prototyping are paid by the customers, enabling ePIXfab to operate at cost level.

"ePIXfab has a steady user base beyond ePIXnet, and beyond Europe, and we project that with the current customer demand ePIXnet can be self-sustainable," says Dumon.

Working along similar lines is the JePPIX platform where research groups share the costs for one production run of indium phosphide (InP) chips, in place of silicon.

Another platform is focusing on the nanoscale, giving groups without fabrication facilities access to nano-photonic devices, such as photonic crystals and photonic wires. An example of the success of this platform was presented by University of St Andrews researchers who developed an optical switch 36 times smaller than a conventional device.
Legacy beyond the platforms

In addition to these tangible results, Baets notes that ePIXnet has also stimulated a social network of like-minded researchers in Europe. It supported exchanges of junior researchers, and over 100 such exchanges took place between the partners, he said.

"In this way, the social interconnect distance between any two researchers in photonic ICs has gone down drastically in Europe," says Baets. "The long-term impact of this may well be immense."

The ePIXnet Network of Excellence received funding from the EU's Sixth Framework Programme for research.

####

For more information, please click here

Copyright © ITC Results

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Thin films offer promise for ferroelectric devices: Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology demystify the ferroelectric properties observed in hafnium-oxide-based thin films, revealing a potentially useful device material August 3rd, 2015

Harris & Harris Group Portfolio Company, HZO, Announces Partnerships with Dell and Motorola August 1st, 2015

Advances and Applications in Biosensing, Sensor Power, and Sensor R&D to be Covered at Sensors Global Summit August 1st, 2015

Kalam: versatility personified August 1st, 2015

Chip Technology

Thin films offer promise for ferroelectric devices: Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology demystify the ferroelectric properties observed in hafnium-oxide-based thin films, revealing a potentially useful device material August 3rd, 2015

This could replace your silicon computer chips: A new semiconductor material made from black phosphorus may be a candidate to replace silicon in future tech July 30th, 2015

March 2016; 6th Int'l Conference on Nanostructures in Iran July 29th, 2015

Meet the high-performance single-molecule diode: Major milestone in molecular electronics scored by Berkeley Lab and Columbia University team July 29th, 2015

Optical computing/ Photonic computing

Short wavelength plasmons observed in nanotubes: Berkeley Lab researchers create Ludinger liquid plasmons in metallic SWNTs July 28th, 2015

Quantum networks: Back and forth are not equal distances! July 28th, 2015

Superfast fluorescence sets new speed record: Plasmonic device has speed and efficiency to serve optical computers July 27th, 2015

Penn researchers discover new chiral property of silicon, with photonic applications July 25th, 2015

Discoveries

Thin films offer promise for ferroelectric devices: Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology demystify the ferroelectric properties observed in hafnium-oxide-based thin films, revealing a potentially useful device material August 3rd, 2015

Shaping the hilly landscapes of a semi-conductor nanoworld August 1st, 2015

Solid state physics: Quantum matter stuck in unrest August 1st, 2015

Self-assembling, biomimetic membranes may aid water filtration August 1st, 2015

Announcements

Thin films offer promise for ferroelectric devices: Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology demystify the ferroelectric properties observed in hafnium-oxide-based thin films, revealing a potentially useful device material August 3rd, 2015

Transparent, electrically conductive network of encapsulated silver nanowires: A novel electrode for optoelectronics August 1st, 2015

Harris & Harris Group Portfolio Company, HZO, Announces Partnerships with Dell and Motorola August 1st, 2015

Advances and Applications in Biosensing, Sensor Power, and Sensor R&D to be Covered at Sensors Global Summit August 1st, 2015

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Heating and cooling with light leads to ultrafast DNA diagnostics July 31st, 2015

IEEE Photonics Society Applauds Rochester on Integrated Photonics Institute Win July 30th, 2015

March 2016; 6th Int'l Conference on Nanostructures in Iran July 29th, 2015

Controlling phase changes in solids: Controlling phase changes in solids July 29th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project