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Material Could Bring Optical Communication Onto Silicon Chips

By MIT News

October 24, 2017

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Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they have created a proof-of-concept light emitter and photodetector that can be incorporated into silicon complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (Si-CMOS) chips, a solution to the "interconnect bottleneck" that slows communication between different chip elements.

The team used two-dimensional (2D) molybdenum ditelluride, a semiconductor material that can be stacked on top of silicon wafers. The material also emits infrared light, so it can be used for on-chip communication. For its use as a light emitter, the researchers applied a voltage across metallic gate electrodes positioned side-by-side on top of the material.

Once the diode is generated, the team ran a current through the device, triggering optical emission.

The researchers say the device also can function as a photodetector by switching the polarity of the applied voltage.

"This work shows that 2D materials and Si-CMOS and silicon photonics are a natural match," notes Institute of Photonic Sciences (Spain) professor Frank Koppens.

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