Nanotechnology Now







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

Leti to Offer Updates on Silicon Photonics Successes at OFC in LA February 27th, 2015

Moving molecule writes letters: Caging of molecules allows investigation of equilibrium thermodynamics February 27th, 2015

Untangling DNA with a droplet of water, a pipet and a polymer: With the 'rolling droplet technique,' a DNA-injected water droplet rolls like a ball over a platelet, sticking the DNA to the plate surface February 27th, 2015

Maximum Precision in 3D Printing: New complete solution makes additive manufacturing standard for microfabrication February 26th, 2015

Chip Technology

New nanowire structure absorbs light efficiently: Dual-type nanowire arrays can be used in applications such as LEDs and solar cells February 25th, 2015

SUNY Poly CNSE Researchers and Corporate Partners to Present Forty Papers at Globally Recognized Lithography Conference: SUNY Poly CNSE Research Group Awarded Both ‘Best Research Paper’ and ‘Best Research Poster’ at SPIE Advanced Lithography 2015 forum February 25th, 2015

Ultra-thin nanowires can trap electron 'twisters' that disrupt superconductors February 24th, 2015

Silicon Catalyst Announces Partnership With imec to Support Semiconductor Start-Ups February 23rd, 2015

Optical computing/ Photonic computing

Novel solid-state nanomaterial platform enables terahertz photonics February 17th, 2015

Light in the Moebius strip: A Moebius strip created from laser light opens up new possibilities for material processing and for micro- and nanotechnology February 13th, 2015

New design tool for metamaterials: Berkeley Lab study shows how to predict metamaterial nonlinear optical properties February 10th, 2015

The power of light-matter coupling: A theoretical study shows that strong ties between light and organic matter at the nanoscale open the door to modifying these coupled systems' optical, electronic or chemical properties February 5th, 2015

Discoveries

Leti to Offer Updates on Silicon Photonics Successes at OFC in LA February 27th, 2015

Moving molecule writes letters: Caging of molecules allows investigation of equilibrium thermodynamics February 27th, 2015

Untangling DNA with a droplet of water, a pipet and a polymer: With the 'rolling droplet technique,' a DNA-injected water droplet rolls like a ball over a platelet, sticking the DNA to the plate surface February 27th, 2015

Graphene shows potential as novel anti-cancer therapeutic strategy: University of Manchester scientists have used graphene to target and neutralise cancer stem cells while not harming other cells February 26th, 2015

Announcements

Leti to Offer Updates on Silicon Photonics Successes at OFC in LA February 27th, 2015

Moving molecule writes letters: Caging of molecules allows investigation of equilibrium thermodynamics February 27th, 2015

Untangling DNA with a droplet of water, a pipet and a polymer: With the 'rolling droplet technique,' a DNA-injected water droplet rolls like a ball over a platelet, sticking the DNA to the plate surface February 27th, 2015

Graphene shows potential as novel anti-cancer therapeutic strategy: University of Manchester scientists have used graphene to target and neutralise cancer stem cells while not harming other cells February 26th, 2015

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Leti to Offer Updates on Silicon Photonics Successes at OFC in LA February 27th, 2015

Rice's Stephan Link honored for nanoscience research: The Welch Foundation honors ‘rising star’ with $100,000 Hackerman Award February 26th, 2015

Maximum Precision in 3D Printing: New complete solution makes additive manufacturing standard for microfabrication February 26th, 2015

Learning by eye: Silicon micro-funnels increase the efficiency of solar cells February 25th, 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







© Copyright 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE