According to the engineers from the University of California, Berkeley, they have found a way of “growing” nano lasers directly onto a silicon surface in a way that could lead to viable photonic processors.
Optical interconnects allow data to be carried over light, however silicon is "extremely deficient" at generating light, the researchers said. Because of that, they've turned to a new type of material called III-V semiconductors, used to make lasers and LEDs.
However, previous attempts to marry III-V materials with silicon have failed.
"Growing III-V semiconductor films on silicon is like forcing two incongruent puzzle pieces together," the Roger Chen, a UC Berkeley graduate student in electrical engineering and computer sciences. "It can be done, but the material gets damaged in the process."
The new technique patched up these differences by working at 400 degrees centigrade compared with the scorching 700 degrees in previous methods. The technique could be integrated into current foundries, which means they have far more chance of succeeding in the commercial world outside research labs.
"This is the first bottom-up integration of III-V nanolasers onto silicon chips using a growth process compatible with the CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) technology now used to make integrated circuits," said Connie Chang-Hasnain, professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences.
"This research has the potential to catalyse an opto-electronics revolution in computing, communications, displays and optical signal processing. We expect to improve the characteristics of these lasers and ultimately control them electronically for a powerful marriage between photonic and electronic devices."
This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk