Silicon Photonics

Design of Photonic-Electronic Integrated Circuits

Silicon Photonics is a relatively new research area. In silicon photonics technology optical components and systems are realized which use silicon for the transmission and processing of optical signals on a chip. Silicon is structured to operate as an optical waveguide, optical filter, modulator, detector and other optical devices.

Silicon is transparent to infrared light. For communication applications using silicon photonics infrared light with wavelengths of 1300nm and 1550 nm is predominately used which is also used since many years for data transmission in fiber-optic communication systems. For silicon photonics sensor applications various wavelengths are utilized. Since silicon photonic circuits can be fabricated using the same processes and equipment as ordinary electronic ICs, optical and electronic functions can be realized on the same chip. Applications for such photonic-electronic ICs are data transmission for fast internet links, energy-efficient data communication in super computers, optical data cables (“optical USB”), but also highly-sensitive sensors, e.g. for the detection of bio-molecules or gases.

The research group circuit and system technology works on the design of integrated photonic-electronic circuits in silicon photonics technology. This research is done in cooperation with the IHP - Leibniz-Institute for innovative Microelectronics. Fig. 1 shows different silicon photonic devices which have been developed by our group and fabricated in the SG25ESS technology of  IHP.

Currently our research is focused on

  • Development of monolithically-integrated opto-electronic receiver and transmitter circuits for data rates up to 100 Gbit/s
  • Design methodology for integrated photonic-electronic System-On-Chip (photonic-electronic SoC)
  • Optical sensors for precise rotational angle sensing
Fig.1: Integrated silicon photonics devices: Crossing oft wo optical waveguides (upper left microphotograph), Grating coupler for coupling of light into waveguides (upper right microphotograph) and 2x4 Mach-Zehnder interferometer