Southampton project to explore the use of germanium in infrared photonics applications

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Research led by the University of Southampton is aiming to establish whether germanium can be used in mid infrared photonics circuits and sensors.

Principal investigator Dr Goran Mashanovich, reader in silicon photonics at the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), said: "The research will be performed in the world-leading facilities available at Southampton. This will not only reduce the fabrication and testing turnaround time significantly, but will also give us much better control over the fabrication processes and offer possibilities to improve designs and generate new ideas." So far, research in mid-IR group IV photonics has focused on silicon, due to its availability, low cost and maturity of fabrication processes. However, silicon is only transparent at up to 8µm and is not suitable for the mid-IR range, which spans 8 to 14µm. The MIGRATION (Mid-Infrared GeRmAnium phoTonIcs fOr seNsing) project will investigate germanium as an alternative to silicon, exploring such benefits as higher nonlinear coefficients, better carrier mobility, and the potential to produce active devices based on germanium alloys. Mid IR group IV photonics technology is believed to have a number of important application areas, including chemical and biological sensing, environmental and hazardous substance monitoring, medicine, telecommunications, astronomy, defence and security.