Helios awarded €8.5m research funding

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The Helios photonics project has been awarded €8.5m in research funding.

This four-year project is coordinated by CEA-LETI, along with 19 European partners. The overall goal of the project is to combine a photonic layer with a CMOS circuit using a variety of microelectronic fabrication processes. 

The other objectives of the project include:

  • The development of high-performance generic building blocks for a broad range of applications, including: WDM sources by III-V/Si heterogeneous integration, fast modulators and detectors, passive circuits and packaging.

  • The building and optimisation of a complete production chain for complex functional devices. Integration of electronics and photonics in a single chip will be addressed not only at process level but also through the development of an adequate design environment

  • Demonstrating the power of this CMOS photonics production chain through several complex photonic IC’s that address different industrial needs. These include a 40Gb/s modulator, a 10x10 Gb/s transceiver, a Photonic QAM-10Gb/s wireless transmission system and a mixed analog and digital transceiver module for multifunction antennas.

  • Investigating also some more promising but more challenging alternative approaches, such as silicon lasers and amorphous silicon modulators. These concepts offer clear advantages in terms of integration on CMOS for the next generation of Photonic IC’s

  • Road mapping, dissemination and training, to strengthen the European research andindustry in this field and to raise awareness of new users about the interest of CMOS Photonics.

CMOS Photonics is an active research topic that may lead to low-cost solutions for a range of applications, including: optical communications, optical interconnections between semiconductor chips and circuit boards, optical signal processing, optical sensing, and biological applications. 

By co-integrating optics and electronics on the same chip, high functionality, high performance and highly integrated devices can be produced, while using well-known microelectronics fabrication processes.  

Another advantage of CMOS photonics is that its success will move the emphasis from the component to the architecture. In other words, industrial and R&D efforts could be focused on new products or new functionalities rather than on the technology level.