Silicon Integrated Nanophotonics: Photons and Electrons Living Together

Written by Gina Smith

It’s called silicon-integrated nanophotonics — optical tech and electronic transistor tech working on a single 90nm chip. Check out this white paper, fotos. IBM will formally present more on this tech — photons and electrons multiplexing for greater throughput speeds — later this week.

IBM today announced it has reached a breakthrough point in its long promised silicon-integrated nanophotonics effort.

IBM reps said that, in a standard 90nm package, it’s managed to combine optical parts like Germanium photodetectors alongside traditional electronic transistors. A white paper detailing the breakthrough is due later this week. Below the fold find images — and a white paper on the decade-long effort to break through Moore’s law by using photons instead of or alongside electrons in transistor tech.

The silicon-integrated nanonphotonics news broke early this morning, December 10, 2012. Nanophotonic tech promises dramatic speed increases in data throughput, affecting servers and data centers most profoundly. Scroll below for some pics and a white paper detailing the effort through the years.

Above, the yellow bars in the rendering of a chip cross section indicate the connection of the silicon transistors (red) and the optical parts (blue). Image credit: IBM

Above, check out what IBM calls an angled view. In blue are optical “waveguides” responsible for transmitting high-speed photon signals. In yellow are the copper wires that carry electronic signals. The breakthrough here, says IBM, is that the 90nm tech lets manufacturers store optical and electrical components on the same chip — in the same form factor. Image credit: IBM

Here is a white paper IBM published earlier this year on its silicon-integrated nanophotonics technology. It’s part of a presentation from IBM’s Yurii Vlasov, manager of IBM’s Silicon integrated nanophotonics division.
Ibm-nanophotonics-Vlasov CLEO Plenary 05092012