Light has a dual nature known as the wave-particle duality. That is to say, light has the characteristics of both a continuous electromagnetic wave and a particle (a photon).

Photonics is the physical science of light waves. It deals with the science behind the generation, detection, and manipulation of light. Light has a dual nature known as the wave-particle duality. That is to say, light has the characteristics of both a continuous electromagnetic wave and a particle (a photon).

Photonics, the physical science of light waves, plays an important role in driving innovation across an increasing number of fields.

The application of photonics, the physical science of light waves, spreads across several sectors, from optical data communications to imaging, lighting, and displays, to the manufacturing sector, to life sciences, health care, security, and safety.

Using light instead of electricity, integrated photonic technology provides a solution to the limitations of electronics like integration and heat generation, taking devices to the next level, the so-called “more than Moore” concept, to increase capacity and speed of data transmission.

An integrated circuit containing electronic components that form a functional circuit, such as those embedded inside your smart phone, computer, and other electronic devices; a photonic integrated circuit (PIC) is a chip that contains photonic components, which are components that work with light (photons).

With electronic integrated circuits reaching the end of their integration capacity, PICs have the potential to be the preferred technology for data communications (inter- and intra-datacenter communications).

Due to the abrupt development of neuromorphic circuits, artificial intelligence (AI) has gained more importance as it strives to process brain energy efficiently. From a data driven economy’s point of view, powerful computing systems are more important for hasty technological progress.

However, due to the high demand for computing power, there is a huge gap between existing and required technology, and to overcome this gap, non-volatile memory (NVM) based on magnetic tunnel junctions, resistive switches, and phase change memory devices are necessary as building blocks for neural network implementation and require an additional multi terminal device concept.

Rapid growth in data transfer has marginally increased costs associated with complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) and von Neaman architecture, and there is a need for technology that will play a vital role in future computing systems, such as spintronics, memristive and ultra-wide bandgap semiconductor (UWBG), and two dimensional (2D) materials-based electronics. Here are some examples of the device types that are emerging as candidates to replace CMOS in specific applications.

  1. Memristors
  2. Nanoscale Vacuum Electronics
  3. Neuromorphic Devices
  4. Printed Electronics
  5. Spintronic Devices
  6. Graphene and 2D material electronics
  7. Carbon nanotube electronics
  8. Plasmonic Devices

Emerging research devices based on 2D materials are the future of the CMOS industry and can bring a disaster change by replacing old technology. Due to their atomically thin structures, UWBG and 2D materials have superior optical, electrical, and mechanical properties that make them forefront materials in research.

Hybrid devices and layer-by-layer materials have reached their limits, and now they are being replaced with 2D materials that promise a variety of new technologies that have opened a stimulating door for future technologies.

Wide bandgap semiconductors, especially GaN, are known as the “future Si of the microelectronic industry. Devices fabricated using SiC and GaN have superior performance both in the DC and AC domains compared to GaAs based devices. By using WBG based materials, quality work can be done in the following areas:

  1. High-field laser physics
  2. Frequency combs
  3. Attosecond science
  4. Plasma-based laser accelerator schemes
  5. Laser acceleration in vacuum (ultrashort laser pulse interactions and crossed-beam geometries)
  6. Relativistic quantum dynamics

2D and WBG based materials have vast usage in different high power and high frequency applications. The major applications include:

  1. Wireless communication, radar, etc.
  2. Microwave Circuits
  3. Power Amplifiers
  4. Attenuators/Mixers/Oscillators/LNA
  5. Power added efficiency >30%
  6. RF gain > 10 dB
  7. Unity Gain Frequency, FT  30 GHz

A project for developing an RF device using WBG and a 2D based FET for high power applications is under process at the Superior University, Lahore.

The proposed project has been designed to go through phases of experimentation, development, and implementation in a creative environment, so close engagement with industrial partners is very likely. It will provide a better CMOS technology perspective on the challenges. The research has the following major objectives and scope:

  1. To develop a state-of-the-art, robust method to predict the electrical and optical properties of WBG and 2D based materials and compare it with existing techniques.
  2. To develop a model that can be generalised for a wide range of materials and system variables.
  3. To integrate the proposed model with some practical applications.
  4. To transfer the technology from the lab to industrial partners
  5. To disseminate the research results to the scientific community, industrial partners, manufacturing companies, and policymakers

Societal Impact of Photonics

Photonic technologies enable sustainable, resource-efficient production processes. Modern lighting methods contribute to protecting the environment. Some societal impacts are as follows:

  1. Immunity from electromagnetic interference (EMI)
  2. Freedom from electrical short circuits or ground loops
  3. Safety in combustible environment
  4. Security from monitoring
  5. Low-loss transmission
  6. Large bandwidth (i.e., multiplexing capability)
  7. Small size, light weight
  8. Inexpensive
This article is jointly authored by Muhammad Haseeb Shakil, Executive Research Operations (ORIC) and Dr. Shafique Ahmed, Manager Innovation & Commercialization (ORIC) From The Superior University Lahore.