Since the invention of the bipolar transistor in 1947, the growth of the semiconductor industry has been a catalogue of continuous success. Researchers have been able to maintain pace with the demand for exponential growth in both capacity and complexity, primarily through the shrinkage of device dimension. However, the next few decades will witness a series of major challenges for both device and process engineers if this trend is to continue.
Utilizing the excellent facilities in Engineering Physics housed in the CEMD, we intend to explore novel device systems and investigate the microscopic phenomena which limit current processing strategies. Much of the work will concentrate on silicon as the industry workhorse material. In particular, we are interested in the interaction of light with silicon (exploiting the high bandwidth of optical devices) and intend to develop chips which combine optical and electrical functionality. This is somewhat challenging (silicon is not a natural material for use in optoelectronics) but necessary because silicon provides the most cost-effective route for integrated optical solutions. The ambitious goal of such research is the monolithic integration of functions such as switching, modulation, (de)multiplexing, emission, amplification and detection, together with control electronics and environmental sensing, using (sub)micron optical waveguides on a single silicon chip.
The fabrication of devices will be via technologies fully compatible with standard silicon processing, including photolithography, layer deposition, ion implantation and wet and dry etching capitalizing on links with industrial and academic collaborators.