Quantum dot laser paves the way for lower-cost photonics

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With the explosive growth of bandwidth demand in telecommunications networks, experts are continually seeking new ways to transmit increasingly large amounts of data in the quickest and cheapest ways possible. Photonic devices — which convert light to electricity and vice versa — offer an energy-efficient alternative to traditional copper network links for information transmission. Unfortunately, these devices are also almost always prohibitively pricey.

140304130031-largeOne way to bring those costs down is to make photonics compatible with the existing silicon microelectronics industry. A promising way to do that is by growing “quantum dot” lasers directly on silicon substrates.

Although such quantum dot lasers have been grown on silicon before, their performance has not equaled that of quantum dot lasers grown on their native substrates, which are platforms made of similar materials as the quantum dot lasers themselves.

A group of scientists and researchers from the University of California at Santa Barbara was able to find a solution to the problem and to develop low-cost quantum dot lasers for photonics approach.

In their new work, the team grew quantum dots directly on silicon substrates using a technique known as molecular beam epitaxy, or MBE (“epitaxy” refers to the process of growing one crystal on top of another, with the orientation of the top layer determined by that of the bottom).

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