Mode-locked lasers provide extremely low jitter optical pulse trains for a number of applications ranging from sampling of RF-signals and optical frequency combs to microwave and optical signal synthesis. Integrated versions have the advantage of high reliability, low cost and compact. Here, we describe a fully integrated mode-locked laser architecture on a CMOS platform that utilizes rare-earth doped gain media, double-chirped waveguide gratings for dispersion compensation and nonlinear Michelson Interferometers for generating an artificial saturable absorber to implement additive pulse mode locking on chip. First results of devices at 1.9 μm using thulium doped aluminum-oxide glass and operating in the Q-switched mode locking regime are presented.
We review recent progress of an effort led by the Stojanović (UC Berkeley), Ram (MIT) and Popović (CU Boulder) research groups to enable the design of photonic devices, and complete on-chip electro-optic systems and interfaces, directly in standard microelectronics CMOS processes in a microprocessor foundry, with no in-foundry process modifications. This approach allows tight and large-scale monolithic integration of silicon photonics with state-of-the-art (sub-100nm-node) microelectronics, here a 45nm SOI CMOS process. It enables natural scale-up to manufacturing, and rapid advances in device design due to process repeatability. The initial driver application was addressing the processor-to-memory communication energy bottleneck. Device results include 5Gbps modulators based on an interleaved junction that take advantage of the high resolution of the sub-100nm CMOS process. We demonstrate operation at 5fJ/bit with 1.5dB insertion loss and 8dB extinction ratio. We also demonstrate the first infrared detectors in a zero-change CMOS process, using absorption in transistor source/drain SiGe stressors. Subsystems described include the first monolithically integrated electronic-photonic transmitter on chip (modulator+driver) with 20-70fJ/bit wall plug energy/bit (2-3.5Gbps), to our knowledge the lowest transmitter energy demonstrated to date. We also demonstrate native-process infrared receivers at 220fJ/bit (5Gbps). These are encouraging signs for the prospects of monolithic electronics-photonics integration. Beyond processor-to-memory interconnects, our approach to photonics as a “More-than- Moore” technology inside advanced CMOS promises to enable VLSI electronic-photonic chip platforms tailored to a vast array of emerging applications, from optical and acoustic sensing, high-speed signal processing, RF and optical metrology and clocks, through to analog computation and quantum technology.