13 September 2011

HELIOS demonstates first 40Gb/s optical modulator in silicon

Grenoble-based CEA-Leti (the French government’s Laboratory for Electronics & Information Technology), which coordinates the pan-European consortium HELIOS (pHotonics ELectronics functional Integration on CMOS) to accelerate commercialization of silicon photonics, claims that a team of European researchers and companies has achieved a major milestone towards fabricating silicon photonics circuits in CMOS foundries.

By demonstrating for the first time a 40Gb/s optical modulator in silicon with a record extinction ratio of 10dB (the power difference between the 1 and 0 data levels), members of the European HELIOS Project have accomplished one of the key project goals necessary in building and optimizing the entire supply chain for fabricating complex functional silicon photonics devices, from design to the process level.

In addition to the 40Gb/s modulator, HELIOS partners are building the fabrication supply chain through several other complex photonic ICs that address a variety of industrial needs, including a 16x10Gb/s transceiver, a photonic QAM-10Gb/s wireless transmission system, and a mixed-analog and digital-transceiver module for multifunction antennas.

Designed and characterized by staff in the Silicon Photonics Group at the Advanced Technology Institute, University of Surrey, UK, the modulator circuit was fabricated in a CMOS-compatible process by Leti, which is coordinating the project. HELIOS partners are presenting the results at the 8th International Conference on Group IV Photonics in London, UK (14–16 September).

”This result is a major step towards high-bandwidth optical systems on silicon because it makes 40Gb/s modulators viable for commercial applications,” says Graham Reed, professor of silicon photonics at the University of Surrey.

Silicon photonics, which Leti says is the only viable technology to meet the demand of high-volume markets, has generated growing interest in recent years, mainly for optical telecommunications or for optical interconnects in microelectronic circuits. CMOS photonics may lead to low-cost solutions for a range of applications such as optical communications, optical interconnections between semiconductor chips and circuit boards, optical signal processing, optical sensing, and biological applications, it adds.

Launched by the European Commission in May 2008 within the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) theme of its 7th Framework Program (FP7), the €8.5m, four-year HELIOS project is designed to drive European R&D in CMOS photonics and to pave the way for industrial development. Specifically, it aims to develop microelectronics fabrication processes for integrating compound semiconductor-based photonics with CMOS silicon circuits and to make the technology available to a wide variety of users.

Project partners include CNRS, Alcatel Thales III-V lab, Thales, University of Paris-Sud, 3S Photonics and Photline Technologies in France; IMEC in Belgium; Phoenix BV in The Netherlands; IHP and the University of Berlin in Germany; Austriamicrosystems AG and the University of Vienna in Austria; IMM and the University of Trento in Italy; the University of Valencia, the University of Barcelona and DAS Photonics in Spain; and the University of Surrey in the UK. The overall project cost is €12m.

See related items:

HELIOS European silicon photonics project demos 10Gb/s modulator

EU CMOS photonics project achieves phase-one goals

Tags: HELIOS Silicon photonics 40Gb/s optical modulator

Visit: www.helios-project.eu

Visit: www.leti.fr

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