Applications of Silicon-Germanium Heterostructures towards a Photonic Future


  • David McShannon McMaster University


Silicon (Si) and Germanium (Ge) are two of the most predominant materials used for photonic integrated circuitry. Together, these materials can be adjusted to create selective optical waveguides for application in several different engineering disciplines including forming a framework for the future of how we communicate. The basis of photonics is the use of light in the form of photons instead of the traditional electrical signal in the form of charge carriers. A research consensus acknowledges that electronic systems can harness this potential of higher speed/higher efficiency data processing using light. Currently the standard optical platform lies in Si itself, a modest emitter of light. For the past decade there has been an international research effort to deliver a practical photonic device that can compete in the electronic industry. In recent years Ge has become an element of interest to combine with Si to reach a functional device for commercialization. Ge provides a unique compatibility to existing complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology, the standard electronics we use in our everyday life. There is substantial belief in a future that possesses a unified optoelectronic integrated circuit, with tremendous technological advancement we can unlock an abundance of advancements for engineering applications. This article will outline the current status of the industry, the strategies of device manufacturing and the challenges moving forward.