The University of Southampton

Researchers expand silicon photonics prototyping facility with £1.5m investment

Published: 11 February 2020
University of Southampton cleanroom complex

A rapid prototyping service for photonic integrated circuits is being expanded in a new funding success at the University of Southampton's £120m cleanroom complex.

Research partners, including experts from Electronics and Computer Science's Sustainable Electronic Technologies group, have been awarded around £1.5m by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to extend the CORNERSTONE service.

CORNERSTONE is an industry compatible, flexible silicon photonics fabrication foundry that provides a multi-project-wafer (MPW) service for academics and industry. The scalable platform, which is unique in its design and process versatility, offers a clear route to market through the use of deep ultraviolet projection lithography.

The team will now develop six new silicon-based technology platforms for researchers to design next generation circuits. These platforms will extend the supported wavelength range into both the visible wavelengths and mid-infrared wavelengths, enabling a range of applications including LIDAR remote sensing and lab-on-a-chip devices.

Professor Harold Chong, Project Co-Investigator and Professor of Electronic Engineering, said: “The flexibility of the processes and the variety of the platforms available in CORNERSTONE 2 gives researchers numerous options when designing optoelectronics devices and systems.

The service is led by Southampton researchers from the Zepler Institute for Photonics and Nanoelectronics' Silicon Photonics Group and School of Electronics and Computer Science, alongside external partners from the University of Glasgow. The Glasgow team will be responsible for integrating light sources onto silicon photonics chips, a major step in the commercialisation of silicon photonics.

Professor Graham Reed, Project Principal Investigator and Deputy Director of the University's Optoelectronics Research Centre, said: "I'm delighted that the EPSRC are supporting the expansion of CORNERSTONE. I believe that it will enable UK researchers to have significant impact in a variety of silicon-based platforms."

The project officially launches on Sunday 1 March and will run for two years.

UK academics will have the opportunity to access the new platforms free-of-charge for the final six months of the project. Throughout the CORNERSTONE 2 project, the team will be consulting the community to determine if they would like to see CORNERSTONE become an EPSRC National Research Facility (NRF).

For more information, visit the CORNERSTONE website.

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