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Sunday, January 10, 2016

#334 Merger of electronics and photonics

Semiconductor material and device designs are selected in accord with the needs of either electronic or photonic functions. In the electronic case, the prime selection criteria include the width of the energy gap, the electron mobility, thermal conductivity, and certain “manufacturability” related properties. For photonic systems the key parameter is not only the width of the energy gap but also type of gap, either direct or indirect.


 In the past, electronic and photonic functions were performed separately by designated devices made out of either “electronic semiconductors” (e.g. Si), or “photonic semiconductors” (e.g. many of the III-V compounds). Currently, however, trend toward a merger of these two functions in a single material system is very obvious and irreversible. Whether in present-day imaging systems, in which display quality is critically dependent on the thin-film transistors (TFT) controlling each pixel, or in LEDs where the electrical signal enforces emission of light, or in solar cells where an electrical signal results from the absorption of sun light, or in future generations of integrated circuits where optical waveguides may one day replace electrical interconnect lines, electrons and photons are destined to interact ever more  closely within the same material system, or in the other words, within the same device or circuit.


Posted by Jerzy Ruzyllo at 07:35 PM | Semiconductors | Link is the personal blog of Jerzy Ruzyllo. With over 35 years of experience in academic research and teaching in the area of semiconductor engineering (currently holding position of a Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State University), he has a unique perspective on the developments in this progress driving technical domain and enjoys blogging about it.

With over 2000 terms defined and explained, Semiconductor Glossary is the most complete reference in the field of semiconductors on the market today.

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