November 29, 2005 Lucas Heights, Australia -- Translucent Photonics, Silex Systems' silicon electronics and photonics semiconductor subsidiary based in Palo Alto, California, has achieved what it calls a "major milestone" in its effort to develop advanced silicon-based photonics devices. According to a press release, the achievement involves the demonstration of "Electroluminescence" (EL) at room temperature in a form of silicon that is compatible with mass produced silicon chips, and with future silicon electronics technology nodes.
"Demonstration of electroluminescence at telecommunication wavelengths and room temperature in this new class of silicon-based semiconductors is a significant achievement, and represents a materials science breakthrough for both electronic and photonic applications," remarks Dr. Petar Atanackovic, CEO of Translucent. "This is an important step forward in our optical silicon integration program. The ultimate objective is to develop optically active devices, including an electrically driven silicon laser, which can be integrated with mainstream silicon chips."
According to the company, the demonstration of EL is a critical pre-requisite to the integration of electronic and optical functionality in silicon, and essentially allows light to be generated from silicon by an electric current, such as would be provided by a small battery, or more importantly, an operating silicon chip itself. The company contends that previous demonstrations of EL in silicon by other groups have been reported at cryogenic temperatures, or in forms of silicon which are not compatible with today's silicon chips or future technology nodes. The company says it is building an extensive intellectual property portfolio to protect its forthcoming materials and applications, based on the demonstration.
The company's EL findings are part of the Electronics and Photonics Integrated Circuits (EPIC) Program funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA). Under a DARPA contract which commenced in January this year, Translucent is funded to develop proprietary silicon-based optical gain devices as part of the broader EPIC Program, details of which can be found at www.darpa.mil/mto/epic.