Erbium on silicon chip speeds up light

September 24, 2012 // By Nicolas Mokhoff
A researcher has demonstrated that the rare earth material erbium can be integrated with silicon for the first time to amplify an optical signal.

PhD candidate Laura Agazzi of the University of Twente (Enschede, Netherlands) demonstrated a working chip able to amplify light at speeds up to 170 Gbit/s. The prototype chip has a signal gain of 7.2 db at 1,533 nm.

The prototype is a starting point for generating a laser with an extremely narrow linewidth of 1.7 KHz: “You could use these chips for sensor purposes, for tracing extremely small particles, for example,” Agazzi reported.

The materials research is sponsored by the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology of the University of Twente.