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Integration of complex optical functionality in a production CMOS process

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  • Computer Science
  • Design
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  • Physics


Optical functionality has been developed within the confines of an existing CMOS process. As of this writing, 10Gigabit modulators, electrically tunable optical filters, waveguides, and grating coupler technology have been successfully implemented alongside the existing transistors in the Freescale Hip7SOI process. This technology will be used to manufacture high bandwidth optical interconnections directly on silicon chips, allowing a new type of network and computing infrastructure to be developed. This work is covered in two distinct phases. First, the exploratory work done to gain experience with high index contrast silicon waveguides primarily served to uncover challenges related with simulation of these devices, and with the practical limitations of efficiently coupling the resulting waveguide devices with the outside world. The second phase began as the grating coupler emerged to address the coupling challenge. It became feasible to conceive of a commercially viable technology based on silicon photonics. The coupler has been evolved to a high level, currently achieving coupling loss of less than 1dB. Once the light is on chip, filtering and modulation technology are implemented. The reverse-biased plasma dispersion modulator has a 3dB roll-off of 10GHz, and an insertion loss less than 5dB. Optical filters based on ring resonators, arrayed waveguide gratings, and interleavers have all been implemented, often with world record performance, and many of the devices have been made electronically tunable to compensate for manufacturing variations and environmental excursions. Finally, circuitry has been designed and constructed on the same die with the optical functionality, fully demonstrating the ability to achieve monolithic integration of these devices.

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