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Nanophotonics, CMOS get integrated

Posted: 05 May 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:CMOS  nanophotonic  plasmonic 

Research institute IMEC has reported a process to integrate high-speed CMOS electronics with nanophotonic circuitry based on plasmonic effects.

Top: Schematic overview of the device, showing focused illumination of a slit in the waveguide using polarized light. Bottom: SEM picture of a typical device.

Metal-based nanophotonics can squeeze light into nanoscale structures that are much smaller than conventional optic components. This plasmonic technology, today still in an experimental stage, has the potential to be used in high-performance nanoscale optical interconnects for high performance computer chips, sensitive (bio)-molecular sensors, and efficient thin-film solar cells.

Plasmons are quasi-particles formed by oscillations in the free-electron gas within some materials. IMEC's results are published in the May issue of Nature Photonics.

The optical properties of nanostructured (noble) metals show great promise for use in nanophotonic applications, according to IMEC. When such nanostructures are illuminated with visible to near-infrared light, the excitation of collective oscillations of conduction electrons, so-called surface plasmons, generates optical resonances. These surface plasmons are capable of capturing, guiding, and focusing electromagnetic energy in deep-subwavelength distances. This is unlike conventional dielectric optical waveguides, which are limited by the wavelength of the light, and which therefore cannot be scaled down to tens of nanometers, IMEC added.

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