The researchers succeeded in mixing light-emitting indium phosphide inside a silicon chip through the use of an oxide layer that functions as a 'glass glue'. The indium phosphide is required to power the laser making a chip's optical component.
The new technology enables the use of regular silicon production technologies, making for an inexpensive production process.
So-called photonic chips mark a step forward in the development of semiconductors by allowing them to use optical technology to communicate with other chips and components inside a computer.
By replacing current electrical communications using copper wires, photonics offer increased bandwidth to power high speed chips of the future, UCSB professor John Bowers explained in a conference call.
"Electrical communications have a lot of dispersion and require a lot of power. That's a huge problem in the industry today. Optic technology [phonetics] gets around this," he said.
The new hybrid technology which mixes silicon with phosphide will allow for mass production of the chips, according to Mario Paniccia, director of Intel's Photonics Technology Lab.
"We are now able to start integrating photonics elements to build things that were not available previously. This bring photonics to the mass market," he said.
Intel envisions hundreds of the hybrid silicon lasers being placed on a single chip, allowing for what Paniccia refers to as "a new era of high-performance computing applications".
"You now have the capability to converge communications and computing on one platform. That's extremely powerful," he said.
While the new process could allow for mass production of phonetic devices, Intel acknowledged that consumer products based on the technology are still years away.
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