Research project aims at integrating logic and light on a chip

September 11, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The research project Low Energy Electronics Systems (LEES) has started its work with a kick-off meeting. The program’s initiator is the renowned Singapore MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) Center based in Singapore. The LEES team is targeting the development of cutting-edge technology to increase energy efficiency and advance high-tech industries that complement today's microelectronics. The research activities will yield, among other technologies, new approaches for energy-saving LEDs and lasers.

SMART is a collaborative project between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the National Research Foundation of Singapore (NRF) . Its objective is to develop cost-effective ways to integrate optical and electronic components on a chip, using the highly promising III-V-on-silicon technology. By 2016, the researchers aim to have developed novel material compounds, process technologies, and integrated circuits on 200 mm CMOS-compatible silicon wafers.

Prof. Eugene A. Fitzgerald from MIT's Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE) is the Lead-Principal Investigator for the project with Soon F. Yoon from the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department (EEE) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), as Co-Lead. “Given the increasing scarcity of energy resources, we are being challenged to provide integrated circuits that have more functionality and higher performance, and use less power,” says Prof. Fitzgerald. Therefore, research is also focusing on the search for solutions that improve energy efficiency by using the latest most efficient storage devices, such as ultra-capacitors and nanobatteries.

Prof. Michael Heuken, Vice President of Research and Development at Aixtron, was appointed as a member to the LEES scientific advisory board. “LEES combines the advantages of expertise in III-V semiconductors with the already established silicon technology,” he comments. “Our particular interest lies in the production of LEDs, lasers, and power semiconductors on large silicon wafers on an industrial scale.”

Researchers have high expectations, especially in regard to the integration of AlInGaN and AlInGaAsP based III-V semiconductors in silicon-based CMOS circuits and the progress that will be made in conjunction with this to save energy. In the future, the new circuit designs will be used in multifunctional LED color displays of mobile phones, televisions, and computers, as well as in the printing, power electronics, and LED lighting industries.

Singapore has an extensive silicon industry. The Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) is considered to be a leading center of expertise in Southeast Asia and actively promotes collaboration among