Intel senses avalanche

Intel researchers are claiming to have built a silicon-based avalanche photodetector (APD).

The APD, a highly light-sensitive type of photodiode, was built using CMOS processing techniques and achieved a gain-bandwidth product of 340 GHz.

The researchers claim that its development proves for the first time that a silicon photonics device can exceed the performance of a device made with traditional, more expensive optical materials such as indium phosphide.

‘This research result is another example of how silicon can be used to create very high-performing optical devices,’ said Dr Mario Paniccia, Intel fellow and director of the company’s Photonics Technology Lab.

‘In addition to optical communication, these silicon-based APDs could also be applied to other areas such as sensing, imaging, quantum cryptography or biological applications.’

Intel worked with industry and academic collaborators, and the research was jointly funded by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Numonyx, a maker of NOR, NAND, RAM and phase change non-volatile memory technologies, provided manufacturing and process expertise.

Professor Joe Campbell of the University of Virginia and Professor John Bowers of the University of California, Santa Barbara, both APD experts, provided consultation and assisted with testing.