Military Embedded Systems

Expanded RF and advanced filters in new photonics chip may lead to new device types


December 04, 2023

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Graphic courtesy Nature Communications

SYDNEY, Australia. A research team at the University of Sydney's Nano Institute report that they invented a compact silicon semiconductor chip that integrates electronics with photonic -- or light -- components. 

According to the report of the new chip's invention in the journal Nature Communications, researchers expect the chip will be suitable for use in advanced radar, satellite systems, wireless networks, and the yet-to-be rolled out 6G/7G telecommunications applications. In addition, the Sydney team believes, it could also open the door to advanced manufacturing in Australia and help create high-tech value-add factories in the country. 

The new technology significantly expands radio-frequency (RF) bandwidth, the team reported, which means that more information can flow through the chip.

Additionally, the inclusion of photonics enables advanced filter controls. "Microwave photonic filters play a crucial role in modern communication and radar applications, offering the flexibility to precisely filter different frequencies, reducing electromagnetic interference and enhancing signal quality," stated Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Ben Eggleton, who guides the research team. 

The photonic circuit in the chip means that the team could build a device with an impressive 15 gigahertz bandwidth of tunable frequencies with spectral resolution down to just 37 megahertz, less than a quarter of 1% of the total bandwidth.

Moreover, the team built the chip using an emerging technology in silicon photonics that enables the integration of diverse systems on semiconductors less than 5 millimeters wide. Eggleton likened the technology to Lego building blocks, where new materials are integrated through advanced packaging of components, using electronic "chiplets."

Featured Companies