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Producing semiconductor lasers on a silicon wafer is a long-held goal for the electronics industry, but their fabrication has proved challenging. Now, researchers at A*STAR have developed an innovative way to manufacture them that is cheap, simple and scalable.

Hybrid silicon lasers combine the light-emitting properties of group III–V semiconductors, like gallium arsenide and indium phosphide, with the maturity of silicon manufacturing techniques. These lasers are attracting considerable attention as they promise inexpensive, mass-producible optical devices that can integrate with photonic and microelectronic elements on a single silicon chip. They have potential in a wide range of applications, from short-distance data communication to high-speed, long-distance optical transmission.

In the current production process, however, lasers are fabricated on separate III–V semiconductor wafers before being individually aligned to each silicon device—a time-consuming, costly process that limits the number of lasers that can be placed on a chip.

To overcome these limitations, Doris Keh-Ting Ng and her colleagues from the A*STAR Data Storage Institute have developed an innovative method for producing a hybrid III–V semiconductor and silicon-on-insulator (SOI) optical microcavity. This greatly reduces the complexity of the fabrication process and results in a more compact device.

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Category: Science