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  • HELIOS Shows Off Laser Silicon Progress
Nov 2010
GRENOBLE, France, Nov. 24, 2010 — CEA-Leti, coordinator of the European HELIOS project to accelerate commercialization of silicon photonics, has announced that the consortium has demonstrated a laser and a 10-Gb/s silicon modulator using a technique compatible with complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) processing.

Silicon photonics is an emerging technology for overcoming electrical connections’ limits in processing increasingly data-rich content and reducing the cost of photonic systems by integrating optical and electronic functions on the same chip. It may enable low-cost solutions for applications including optical communications, chip-to-chip and rack-to-rack connections, data-center cables, optical signal processing, optical sensing and biology.

The project, in its second year, is developing building blocks and processes to accelerate the adoption of silicon photonics. The laser was fabricated by first bonding a III-V material (indium phosphide) on top of a CMOS wafer and then processing it using the same equipment as in microelectronics production.

The consortium also demonstrated a 10-Gb/s silicon modulator with an extinction ratio of 7 dB. The 40-Gb/s version has already been designed by the consortium and is under fabrication. First characterization results are expected next year.

“The capability of manufacturing optical components within the CMOS-processing infrastructure is key to realizing the potential of silicon photonics,” said Laurent Fulbert, photonics programs manager at Leti and coordinator of HELIOS. “The HELIOS partners are focused on bringing this technology to foundries and component manufacturers for high-volume applications.”

Besides the laser and silicon modulator, building blocks under development by the HELIOS partners include a light modulator, passive waveguides and photodetectors.

Other recent results of the project include: a demonstration of high responsivity (0.8 to 1 A/W); low dark current and high BW photodiodes (up to 130 GHz); efficient passive waveguides (mux/demux, polarization diversity circuit, fiber coupling, rib/strip transition); establishment of a photonics design flow; and investigation of novel concepts for light emission and modulation.

Most of the results of the second year have been presented at the IEEE Group Four Photonics Conference in Beijing.

The HELIOS consortium also developed a training course addressing all aspects of silicon photonics. This free, 21-hour course is available on HELIOS’ website:

Besides Leti, the HELIOS partners are: imec of Belgium; CNRS, Alcatel Thales III-V Lab, 3S Photonics, Thales, the University of Paris-Sud and Photline Technologies, all of France; the University of Surrey (UK); IMM and the University of Trento, both of Italy; Technical University of Valencia, the University of Barcelona and DAS Photonics, all of Spain; IHP and Berlin University of Technology, both of Germany; Austriamicrosystems AG and Technical University of Vienna, both of Austria); and Phoenix BV of the Netherlands.

For more information, visit: or 

light modulator
A device that is designed to modulate a beam of light, usually from a laser source, by acting upon the beam directly. The three general types of devices operate in an acousto-optic, electro-optic or electromechanical mode.
optical communications
The transmission and reception of information by optical devices and sensors.
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