A photonic integrated circuit (PIC) or integrated optical circuit is a device that integrates multiple (at least two) photonic functions and as such is similar to an electronic integrated circuit. The major difference between the two is that a photonic integrated circuit provides functions for information signals imposed on optical wavelengths typically in the visible spectrum or near infrared 850 nm-1650 nm.
An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is a set of electronic circuits on one small flat piece of semiconductor material that is normally silicon. The integration of large numbers of tiny MOS transistors into a small chip results in circuits that are orders of magnitude smaller, faster, and less expensive than those constructed of discrete electronic components. The IC's mass production capability, reliability, and building-block approach to circuit design has ensured the rapid adoption of standardized ICs in place of designs using discrete transistors. ICs are now used in virtually all electronic equipment and have revolutionized the world of electronics. Computers, mobile phones, and other digital home appliances are now inextricable parts of the structure of modern societies, made possible by the small size and low cost of ICs.
The visible spectrum is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visible to the human eye. Electromagnetic radiation in this range of wavelengths is called visible light or simply light. A typical human eye will respond to wavelengths from about 380 to 740 nanometers. In terms of frequency, this corresponds to a band in the vicinity of 430–770 THz.
Infrared radiation (IR), sometimes called infrared light, is electromagnetic radiation (EMR) with longer wavelengths than those of visible light, and is therefore generally invisible to the human eye, although IR at wavelengths up to 1050 nanometers (nm)s from specially pulsed lasers can be seen by humans under certain conditions. IR wavelengths extend from the nominal red edge of the visible spectrum at 700 nanometers, to 1 millimeter (300 GHz). Most of the thermal radiation emitted by objects near room temperature is infrared. As with all EMR, IR carries radiant energy and behaves both like a wave and like its quantum particle, the photon.
The most commercially utilized material platform for photonic integrated circuits is indium phosphide (InP), which allows for the integration of various optically active and passive functions on the same chip. Initial examples of photonic integrated circuits were simple 2 section distributed Bragg reflector (DBR) lasers, consisting of two independently controlled device sections - a gain section and a DBR mirror section. Consequently, all modern monolithic tunable lasers, widely tunable lasers, externally modulated lasers and transmitters, integrated receivers, etc. are examples of photonic integrated circuits. Current state-of-the-art devices integrate hundreds of functions onto single chip.Pioneering work in this arena was performed at Bell Laboratories. Most notable academic centers of excellence of photonic integrated circuits in InP are the University of California at Santa Barbara, USA, and the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.
Indium phosphide (InP) is a binary semiconductor composed of indium and phosphorus. It has a face-centered cubic ("zincblende") crystal structure, identical to that of GaAs and most of the III-V semiconductors.
A distributed Bragg reflector (DBR) is a reflector used in waveguides, such as optical fibers. It is a structure formed from multiple layers of alternating materials with varying refractive index, or by periodic variation of some characteristic of a dielectric waveguide, resulting in periodic variation in the effective refractive index in the guide. Each layer boundary causes a partial reflection of an optical wave. For waves whose vacuum wavelength is close to four times the optical thickness of the layers, the many reflections combine with constructive interference, and the layers act as a high-quality reflector. The range of wavelengths that are reflected is called the photonic stopband. Within this range of wavelengths, light is "forbidden" to propagate in the structure.
The Eindhoven University of Technology, abbr. TU/e, is a technical university in the Netherlands, operating in English. It focuses on engineering and technology.
A 2005 developmentshowed that silicon can, even though it is an indirect bandgap material, still be used to generate laser light via the Raman nonlinearity. Such lasers are not electrically driven but optically driven and therefore still necessitate a further optical pump laser source.
A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation". The first laser was built in 1960 by Theodore H. Maiman at Hughes Research Laboratories, based on theoretical work by Charles Hard Townes and Arthur Leonard Schawlow.
Unlike electronic integration where silicon is the dominant material, system photonic integrated circuits have been fabricated from a variety of material systems, including electro-optic crystals such as lithium niobate, silica on silicon, Silicon on insulator, various polymers and semiconductor materials which are used to make semiconductor lasers such as GaAs and InP. The different material systems are used because they each provide different advantages and limitations depending on the function to be integrated. For instance, silica (silicon dioxide) based PICs have very desirable properties for passive photonic circuits such as AWGs (see below) due to their comparatively low losses and low thermal sensitivity, GaAs or InP based PICs allow the direct integration of light sources and Silicon PICs enable co-integration of the photonics with transistor based electronics.
Silicon is a chemical element with the symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard and brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic lustre; and it is a tetravalent metalloid and semiconductor. It is a member of group 14 in the periodic table: carbon is above it; and germanium, tin, and lead are below it. It is relatively unreactive. Because of its high chemical affinity for oxygen, it was not until 1823 that Jöns Jakob Berzelius was first able to prepare it and characterize it in pure form. Its melting and boiling points of 1414 °C and 3265 °C respectively are the second-highest among all the metalloids and nonmetals, being only surpassed by boron. Silicon is the eighth most common element in the universe by mass, but very rarely occurs as the pure element in the Earth's crust. It is most widely distributed in dusts, sands, planetoids, and planets as various forms of silicon dioxide (silica) or silicates. More than 90% of the Earth's crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust after oxygen.
Lithium niobate (LiNbO3) is a compound of niobium, lithium, and oxygen. Its single crystals are an important material for optical waveguides, mobile phones, piezoelectric sensors, optical modulators and various other linear and non-linear optical applications. It is a human-made dielectric material that does not exist in nature. Lithium niobate is sometimes referred to by the brand name linobate.
In semiconductor manufacturing, Silicon on insulator (SOI) technology is fabrication of silicon semiconductor devices in a layered silicon–insulator–silicon substrate, to reduce parasitic capacitance within the device, thereby improving performance. SOI-based devices differ from conventional silicon-built devices in that the silicon junction is above an electrical insulator, typically silicon dioxide or sapphire. The choice of insulator depends largely on intended application, with sapphire being used for high-performance radio frequency (RF) and radiation-sensitive applications, and silicon dioxide for diminished short-channel effects in other microelectronics devices. The insulating layer and topmost silicon layer also vary widely with application.
The fabrication techniques are similar to those used in electronic integrated circuits in which photolithography is used to pattern wafers for etching and material deposition. Unlike electronics where the primary device is the transistor, there is no single dominant device. The range of devices required on a chip includes low loss interconnect waveguides, power splitters, optical amplifiers, optical modulators, filters, lasers and detectors. These devices require a variety of different materials and fabrication techniques making it difficult to realize all of them on a single chip.
Photolithography, also called optical lithography or UV lithography, is a process used in microfabrication to pattern parts of a thin film or the bulk of a substrate. It uses light to transfer a geometric pattern from a photomask to a photosensitive chemical photoresist on the substrate. A series of chemical treatments then either etches the exposure pattern into the material or enables deposition of a new material in the desired pattern upon the material underneath the photoresist. In complex integrated circuits, a CMOS wafer may go through the photolithographic cycle as many as 50 times.
A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify or switch electronic signals and electrical power. It is composed of semiconductor material usually with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals controls the current through another pair of terminals. Because the controlled (output) power can be higher than the controlling (input) power, a transistor can amplify a signal. Today, some transistors are packaged individually, but many more are found embedded in integrated circuits.
Newer techniques using resonant photonic interferometry is making way for UV LEDs to be used for optical computing requirements with much cheaper costs leading the way to petahertz PHz consumer electronics.
The primary application for photonic integrated circuits is in the area of fiber-optic communication though applications in other fields such as biomedical and photonic computing are also possible.
The arrayed waveguide grating (AWG) which are commonly used as optical (de)multiplexers in wavelength division multiplexed (WDM) fiber-optic communication systems are an example of a photonic integrated circuit which has replaced previous multiplexing schemes which utilized multiple discrete filter elements. Since separating optical modes is a need for quantum computing, this technology may be helpful to miniaturize quantum computers (see linear optical quantum computing).
Another example of a photonic integrated chip in wide use today in fiber-optic communication systems is the externally modulated laser (EML) which combines a distributed feed back laser diode with an electro-absorption modulatoron a single InP based chip.
Photonic integration is currently an active topic in U.S. Defense contracts.It is included by the Optical Internetworking Forum for inclusion in 100 gigahertz optical networking standards.
An optical switch is a device that selectively switches optical signals on or off or from one channel to another. The former is known as an optical (time-domain) switch or an optical modulator, while the latter is called an optical space switch or an optical router. Since the switching can be temporal or spatial, such switches are analogous to one-way or two-way switches in electrical circuits. In general, optical modulators and routers can be made from each other.
A laser diode, (LD), injection laser diode (ILD), or diode laser is a semiconductor device similar to a light-emitting diode in which a laser beam is created at the diode's junction. Laser diodes can directly convert electrical energy into light. Driven by voltage, the doped p-n-transition allows for recombination of an electron with a hole. Due to the drop of the electron from a higher energy level to a lower one, radiation, in the form of an emitted photon is generated. This is spontaneous emission. Stimulated emission can be produced when the process is continued and further generate light with the same phase, coherence and wavelength.
Photonics is the physical science of light (photon) generation, detection, and manipulation through emission, transmission, modulation, signal processing, switching, amplification, and sensing. Though covering all light's technical applications over the whole spectrum, most photonic applications are in the range of visible and near-infrared light. The term photonics developed as an outgrowth of the first practical semiconductor light emitters invented in the early 1960s and optical fibers developed in the 1970s.
The vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser, or VCSEL, is a type of semiconductor laser diode with laser beam emission perpendicular from the top surface, contrary to conventional edge-emitting semiconductor lasers which emit from surfaces formed by cleaving the individual chip out of a wafer. VCSELs are used in various laser products, including computer mice, fiber optic communications, laser printers, Face ID, and smartglasses.
Optical or photonic computing uses photons produced by lasers or diodes for computation. For decades, photons have promised to allow a higher bandwidth than the electrons used in conventional computers.
Here, is a list of initialisms and acronyms used in laser physics, applications and technology.
An optical modulator is a device which is used to modulate a beam of light. The beam may be carried over free space, or propagated through an optical waveguide. Depending on the parameter of a light beam which is manipulated, modulators may be categorized into amplitude modulators, phase modulators, polarization modulators etc. Often the easiest way to obtain modulation of intensity of a light beam, is to modulate the current driving the light source, e.g. a laser diode. This sort of modulation is called direct modulation, as opposed to the external modulation performed by a light modulator. For this reason light modulators are, e.g. in fiber optic communications, called external light modulators.
Silicon photonics is the study and application of photonic systems which use silicon as an optical medium. The silicon is usually patterned with sub-micrometre precision, into microphotonic components. These operate in the infrared, most commonly at the 1.55 micrometre wavelength used by most fiber optic telecommunication systems. The silicon typically lies on top of a layer of silica in what is known as silicon on insulator (SOI).
Fiber-optic communication is a method of transmitting information from one place to another by sending pulses of light through an optical fiber. The light forms an electromagnetic carrier wave that is modulated to carry information. Fiber is preferred over electrical cabling when high bandwidth, long distance, or immunity to electromagnetic interference are required.
Micro-Opto-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MOEMS) are not a special class of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) but rather the combination of MEMS merged with Micro-optics; this involves sensing or manipulating optical signals on a very small size scale using integrated mechanical, optical, and electrical systems. MOEMS includes a wide variety of devices including optical switch, optical cross-connect, tunable VCSEL, microbolometers amongst others. These devices are usually fabricated using micro-optics and standard micromachining technologies using materials like silicon, silicon dioxide, silicon nitride and gallium arsenide.
An opto-electronic oscillator (OEO) is an optoelectronic circuit that produces repetitive electronic sine wave and/or modulated optical continuous wave signals.
Michal Lipson is an American physicist known for her work on silicon photonics. Lipson was named a 2010 MacArthur Fellow for contributions to silicon photonics especially towards enabling GHz silicon active devices. Until 2014, she was the Given Foundation Professor of Engineering at Cornell University in the school of electrical and computer engineering and a member of the Kavli Institute for Nanoscience at Cornell. She is now the Eugene Professor of Electrical Engineering at Columbia University. In 2009 she co-founded the company PicoLuz, which develops and commercializes silicon nanophotonics technologies.
Rod C. Alferness was president of The Optical Society in 2008.
An electro-absorption modulator (EAM) is a semiconductor device which can be used for modulating the intensity of a laser beam via an electric voltage. Its principle of operation is based on the Franz-Keldysh effect, i.e., a change in the absorption spectrum caused by an applied electric field, which changes the bandgap energy but usually does not involve the excitation of carriers by the electric field.
An optical modulator is an optical device which is used to modulate a beam of light with a perturbation device. It is a kind of transmitter to convert information to optical binary signal through optical fiber or transmission medium of optical frequency in fiber optic communication. There are several methods to manipulate this device depending on the parameter of a light beam like amplitude modulator (majority), phase modulator, polarization modulator etc. The easiest way to obtain modulation is modulation of intensity of a light by the current driving the light source. This sort of modulation is called direct modulation, as opposed to the external modulation performed by a light modulator. For this reason, light modulators are called external light modulators. According to manipulation of the properties of material modulators are divided into two groups, absorptive modulators and refractive modulators. Absorption coefficient can be manipulated by Franz-Keldysh effect, Quantum-Confined Stark Effect, excitonic absorption, or changes of free carrier concentration. Usually, if several such effects appear together, the modulator is called electro-absorptive modulator. Refractive modulators most often make use of electro-optic effect, other modulators are made with acousto-optic effect, magneto-optic effect such as Faraday and Cotton-Mouton effects. The other case of modulators is spatial light modulator (SLM) which is modified two dimensional distribution of amplitude & phase of an optical wave.
Crosslight Software Inc. is an international company headquartered in greater Vancouver, BC, Canada. Officially spun off from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) in 1995, it provides Technology Computer Aided Design (TCAD) tools for semiconductor device and process simulations. Crosslight's founder, Dr. Z.M. Simon Li (李湛明), is a pioneer in the field of optoelectronic device simulation TCAD and based on this work, Crosslight claims to be the first commercial vendor of TCAD tools for quantum well laser diodes. Crosslight also licenses other technology from the Stanford University TCAD Group for semiconductor process simulations.
The Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) is one of seven current organizational divisions of DARPA, an agency responsible for the development of new technology for the United States Armed Forces. It is sometimes referred to as the Microelectronics Technology Office.
Yasuharu Suematsu is researcher and educator in optical communication technology by invention of the Dynamic Single Mode Semiconductor Lasers for actuation and following development of large capacity and long distance optical fiber communications.
An erbium-doped waveguide amplifier is a type of an optical amplifier. It is a close relative of an EDFA, Erbium-doped fiber amplifier, and in fact EDWA's basic operating principles are identical to those of the EDFA. Both of them can be used to amplify infrared light at wavelengths in optical communication bands between 1500 and 1600 nm. However, whereas an EDFA is made using a free-standing fiber, an EDWA is typically produced on a planar substrate, sometimes in ways that are very similar to the methods used in electronic integrated circuit manufacturing. Therefore, the main advantage of EDWAs over EDFAs lies in their potential to be intimately integrated with other optical components on the same planar substrate and thus making EDFAs unnecessary.
John E. Bowers is an American physicist, engineer, researcher and educator. He is the Fred Kavli Chair in Nanotechnology, the Director of the Institute for Energy Efficiency and a Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Materials at University of California, Santa Barbara. He is also the Deputy Director of American Institute of Manufacturing of Integrated Photonics.