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  • UTA Receives $1.5M in Grants to Advance Lab-on-Chip Technology
Feb 2016
ARLINGTON, Texas, Feb. 10, 2016 — An ultrathin semiconductor laser under development at The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) can be integrated with mainstream electronics on the same silicon substrate with increased capacity and energy efficiency.

Professor Weidong Zhou will use a three-year, $600,000 grant from the U.S. Army Research Office to build upon advances in printed photonic crystals and silicon lab-on-a-chip technology.

"Big companies like IBM and Intel are using this technology for high-performance computing centers," Zhou said. "The big push now is for the next big thing: smaller, faster and less and less power consumption."
Professor Weidong Zhou
Professor Weidong Zhou. Courtesy of UT Arlington.
Zhou also has recently received a three-year, $935,000 grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to explore extreme energy efficiency lasers, in collaboration with Professors Shanhui Fan at Stanford and Xiuling Li at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Zhou holds three issued patents related to this technology and has more than 270 journal publications and conference presentations. His previous research led to innovations that removed roadblocks to putting optical technology on a silicon chip.

Zhou developed a membrane laser less than 1 µm thick that is compatible with planar complementary metal oxide silicon platforms, the building blocks for all electronics. The key innovation was the integration of a certain compound semiconductor material with a silicon photonic crystal cavity, allowing a laser to be built directly on a silicon chip next to other electrical components, leading to higher speed and efficiency.

Zhou's group is actively pursuing various innovative membrane laser architectures for extreme energy efficient computing and communication systems. They will use his new grant to continue innovations in high-performance membrane lasers.

"We are looking for devices and components to be integrated on a chip," Zhou said. "As we address electrical injection, integration with other devices on the chip and increased power capabilities, we can begin to apply this technology to products in the medical field or in the consumer arena. These applications could include portable electronics, sensing and imaging equipment, bio applications and wearable electronics."

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