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Silicon photonics is the innovative study and application of photonic systems for generating, processing, manipulating and otherwise using light for faster data transmission both between and within microchips. Silicon is used as the optical medium. Operation is in infrared wavelengths (commonly 1.55 micrometers), which are used in fiber-optic telecommunication systems.
Silicon photonics, with its ultra-fast data transfer between and within microchips, will significantly determine future progress in computer technology and the continuation of Moore’s law.
Silicon photonics is being aggressively researched by both IBM and Intel for semiconductor fabrication techniques. These techniques integrate both optical and electronic components on microchips as they attempt to validate Moore’s law, which states that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit should double every two years.
The presence of nonlinearity and nonlinear optical phenomena (such as the Kerr effect, Raman effect, free charge carrier interactions and two-photon absorption) enables light to interact with light, which allows many things of great academic interest, including wavelength conversion, all-optical signal routing and silicon waveguides.