MUNICH, Germany Researchers at AMO GmbH and the Institute of Semiconductor Electronics at RWTH Aachen (both Aachen, Germany) have developed a cheap method to produce resonant photonic devices on silicon-on-insulator substrate.
The availability of a technology to produce photonic structures of silicon at low cost is said to be a prerequisite of the electronic/photonic convergence which in turn would lead to ultra-fast components for data transmission at very high bandwidth. According to AWO, one of the most promising low-cost fabrication techniques for the emerging field of silicon-on-insulator (SOI) photonics appears to be the Ultraviolet Nanoimprint Lithography (UV-NIL) where a transparent and patterned template is pressed into a low viscosity UV-curable resist for structure definition on the substrate.
A team of AMO and RWTH researchers now has succeeded to produce a ring resonator which can be used as frequency filter in high-speed data transmission circuits, using a UV-NIL template. According to a company spokesperson, the template can be used to produce relatively high quantities of devices without wearing. "We have proved it can be used to manufacture more than 1000 devices", he said. However, manufacturing of industry-scale quantities have not yet been tested.
With little additional effort, it would be possible to produce active components instead of the passive resonators, using the same method, explained RWTH research Michael Först. According to the researcher, photonic devices will be required for future high-speed intra-chip communication lines, for instance to move data around at terabit speeds on multicore processor chips. "Photonic connections will become the technology of choice when the speed potential of today's CMOS devices will be exhausted", Först said.
The UV-NIL research was conducted within the EU-supported project 'Circles of Light'. AMO is also involved in the GRAND project, another EU project aiming exploring materials and technologies for the Post-CMOS era. However, the GRAND project focuses on graphene as a basic material for future transistors.