Photonics is a rapidly growing sector in the global economy. Optical communications, optical storage, imaging, lighting, optical sensors or security are just a few examples. Even if photonics could bring new functionalities to electronic components as low propagation losses, high bandwidth, wavelength multiplexing and immunity to electromagnetic noise, the high cost of photonic components and there assembly is a major obstacle to their deployment in most of application fields. Just like in micro-electronics, many applications can be realized in a much more compact and cost-effective way by integrating the required functionality in a single chip.
Silicon photonics (or more precisely CMOS Photonics) is a way to tackle the problem by developing a small number of generic integration technologies with a level of functionality that can address a broad range of applications. Such technologies, which should be made accessible via foundries, can address markets that are sufficiently large to pay back the development costs.
Functional demonstration of basic building blocks such as a μlaser, a detector, coupling, and link has been realized in previous research projects. As a next step the HELIOS project proposes to integrate photonics components with integrated circuits as a joint effort of major players of the European CMOS Photonics community, in order to enable an integrated design and fabrication chain that can be transferred to EU manufacturers.
The objective of the project HELIOS is to combine a photonic layer with a CMOS circuit by different innovative means, using microelectronics fabrication processes.