Photonic semiconductor that 'fits together like Lego' opens door to local chip industry

December 02, 2023

Dr Alvaro Casas Bedoya, holding the new chip, with Professor Ben Eggleton in the Sydney Nanoscience Hub. Photo: Stefanie ZingsheimResearchers at the University of Sydney Nano Institute have invented a compact silicon semiconductor chip that integrates electronics with photonic, or light, components. The new technology significantly expands radio-frequency (RF) bandwidth and the ability to accurately control information flowing through the unit. Expanded bandwidth means more information can flow through the chip and the inclusion of photonics allows for advanced filter controls, creating a versatile new semiconductor device. The chip is built using an emerging technology in silicon photonics that allows integration of diverse systems on semiconductors less than 5 millimetres wide.

Dr Alvaro Casas Bedoya, holding the new chip, with Professor Ben Eggleton in the Sydney Nanoscience Hub. Photo: Stefanie Zingsheim

Researchers at the University of Sydney Nano Institute have invented a compact silicon semiconductor chip that integrates electronics with photonic, or light, components. The new technology significantly expands radio-frequency (RF) bandwidth and the ability to accurately control information flowing through the unit.

Expanded bandwidth means more information can flow through the chip and the inclusion of photonics allows for advanced filter controls, creating a versatile new semiconductor device.

Researchers expect the chip will have application in advanced radar, satellite systems, wireless networks and the roll-out of 6G and 7G telecommunications and also open the door to advanced sovereign manufacturing. It could also assist in the creation of high-tech value-add factories at places like Western Sydney’s Aerotropolis precinct.

The chip is built using an emerging technology in silicon photonics that allows integration of diverse systems on semiconductors less than 5 millimetres wide. Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Ben Eggleton, who guides the research team, likened it to fitting together Lego building blocks, where new materials are integrated through advanced packaging of components, using electronic ‘chiplets’.

The research for this invention has been published in Nature Communications.

Dr Alvaro Casas Bedoya, Associate Director for Photonic Integration in the School of Physics, who led the chip design, said the unique method of heterogenous materials integration has been 10 years in the making.

The source of this news is from University of Sydney

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