UKRI-EPSRC to fund optical integrated circuits research

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Researchers from UCL's Photonics Group, along with Cambridge, Cardiff and Southampton Universities, have been awarded a five year, £6.1 million, UKRI-EPSRC Programme Grant to create the first optical integrated circuits on silicon with monolithically integrated quantum dot laser sources.

The Quantum Dots on Silicon- QUDOS programme will investigate new ways of integrating all the parts that are needed for high capacity optical communications and signal processing on a single silicon chip.

The sensing, processing and transport of information depends on optical systems from fibre to the home, through data centres to the trans-oceanic optical cables that link nations. Creating these systems requires the mechanical alignment of components to accuracies of less than a micron, about one hundredth of the diameter of a human hair, which is both a costly and labour intensive process.

The QUDOS research team have invented technologies to integrate the required components on silicon chips in the same manner as electronic systems are now realised as integrated circuits, making possible the first data interconnects, switches and sensors that use lasers monolithically integrated on silicon. QUDOS offers the potential to transform Information and Communication Technology (ICT) by changing fundamentally the way in which data is sensed, transferred between and processed on silicon chips.

The QUDOS programme builds on previous work by team members which demonstrated the world's first successful telecommunications wavelength lasers directly integrated on silicon substrates.

Removing the need to assemble individual components will enable vastly increased scale and functionality for information systems at greatly reduced cost.

Commenting on the funding Professor Alwyn Seeds, Principal Investigator for QUDOS said "The QUDOS Programme, through the monolithic integration of all required optical ICT functions on silicon, will have a similar transformative effect on ICT to that which the creation of the first silicon integrated electronic circuits had on electronics. I look forward to working with distinguished colleagues from Cambridge, Cardiff and Southampton Universities, together with outstanding industrial partners spanning the supply chain from materials to systems, to make this vision a reality."