Our vision is to integrate light-emitting devices, based on hexagonal silicon-germanium (Hex-SiGe), with existing Si electronics and passive Si-photonics circuitry. This establishes a silicon-compatible technology platform, with full optoelectronic functionality.


Silicon dominates the electronics industry for more than half a century. However, silicon, germanium, and SiGe-alloys are all indirect bandgap semiconductors. Their inability to efficiently emit light has adversely shaped the semiconductor industry we know today. Accordingly, achieving efficient light emission from SiGe has been a holy grail in silicon technology for decades.

Hexagonal crystal phase SiGe (Hex-SiGe) recently emerged as a new direct bandgap semiconductor with excellent light emission capabilities. Hex-SiGe will provide additional functionality like light generation (light-emitting diode, laser), light amplification (semiconductor optical amplifier), and efficient light detection to silicon technology.


Project description

Hex-SiGe will combine the advantages of both technologies by adding lasers and optical amplifiers to Si-photonics. This consortium will work towards:
High-performance energy-efficient computing
A Hex-SiGe based photonic network-on-chip (PNoC) will significantly contribute to green ICT by reducing energy consumption. A Hex-SiGe based PNoC employing passive Si-photonics circuitry will provide a high capacity network, potentially capable to operate at speeds of multiple Tb/s, as required for the most demanding high-performance computing (HPC) applications.
Low-cost disposable and implantable sensors
The emission wavelength of Hex-SiGe is tunable in the mid-infrared between 1.8-4.2 μm, and can potentially be expanded to at least 6 μm by employing strained Hex-SiGe quantum well lasers to be developed in this project. This tuning window contains many strong vibrational transitions allowing Hex-SiGe sources to operate for sensing in the molecular fingerprint regime. Hex-SiGe lab-on-chip devices have potential applications for (implantable) biomedical sensors, pollution sensing, gas sensing, or drug sensing. With this new technology mass-production of disposable or implantable sensors in Si-foundries will become a reality.
Integrated LiDAR at low-cost
LiDAR devices are of importance for the automotive industry developing self-driving cars. A LiDAR device can be integrated in Si-photonics, using a hybrid integrated III-V laser. A LiDAR sensor using a Hex-SiGe laser with a wavelength of 1800 nm is eye-safe and has good transmission through a foggy atmosphere, thus potentially providing a cost-effective integrated LiDAR device for a very big market.

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