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Monday, 16 July 2012 13:50

Boffins create hybrid graphene-silicon

Written by Nick Farrell



Chip off a new block


Boffins in the US have created a hybrid graphene-silicon device. According to the press release they emerged from their smoke filled labs saying that the optical nonlinearity enabled system parameters such as transmittance and wavelength conversion to change with input power level.  Of course no one knew what they were talking about.

But practically it could mean new developments in optical interconnects and low power photonic integrated circuits. It all comes down to explaining the strong nonlinear response from graphene, which is the key component in the new hybrid device.

Tingyi Gu, a PhD candidate in electrical engineering said that showing the power efficiency of this graphene-silicon hybrid photonic chip is an important step forward in building all optical processing elements that are essential to faster, more efficient, modern telecommunications.

The boffins saw they could generate a radio frequency carrier on top of the transmitted laser beam and control its modulation with the laser intensity and colour. Using different optical frequencies to tune the radio frequency, they found that the graphene-silicon hybrid chip achieved radio frequency generation with a resonant quality factor more than 50 times lower than what is normally achieved in silicon.
This allowed the hybrid silicon structure to serve as a platform for all optical data processing with a compact footprint in dense photonic circuits.

Nick Farrell

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