Silicon photonics for telecom and data-com applications

Since 1990s, silicon (Si) based nano-scale waveguides with high refractive-index contrast material in the near-infrared wavelength region has emerged as a new nano-photonics, i.e., Si photonics. In particular, thanks to its small footprint, low cost, low power-consumption and high-speed performance, and CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) compatible fabrication technologies, the Si photonics has advanced remarkably in recent years. Above all, triggered by explosively expanding traffics in the current telecom/data-com network, it has attracted much attention due to having superior properties which enables possible solutions against ever increasing network demands such as low power consumption, wide bandwidth and high transmission speed. Followed by the advancement of several key innovative technologies including planar light-wave circuit (PLC), arrayed waveguide grating (AWG), optical fiber amplifier (OFA), dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM), re-configurable optical add-drop multiplexing (ROADM) and digital coherent technique, III-V based optoelectronic integrated circuits was first demonstrated in 1980s, but were not scaling up in production immediately after. The first pioneering work of full scale photonic device integration was based on silicon photonics. In recent days, silicon photonics have been widely studied for telecom and data-com applications including compact optical interconnect transceivers and innovative photonic switches in the data center and telecom network. 

Progresses in the optical communication net-work

The review article written by Prof. Kiyoshi Asakawa from Tsukuba summarizes the history of the innovative advances of silicon photonics in two parts, namely an introduction to the basic properties of silicon photonic platforms and their applications in two types of advanced photonic networks: telecom and data-com, to benefit a wide range of readers from scientists/engineers in the institutes/industrial companies to students in the university, who wish to widely understand the attractive features of the Si photonics and their potentials to the advanced photonic network. The review involves specialized applications on the Si photonics for the advanced photonic signal processing network and their key solutions against the current network demands such as low power consumption, wide bandwidth and high transmission speed. This feature is beneficial also to the photonic network engineers who wish to study more about the expanding challenges and useful solutions against the explosively increasing photonic network traffics. Further, this paper includes not only Si photonic device properties/applications but also CMOS compatible nano-fabrication technologies to benefit nano-electronic CMOS process engineer readers who wish to open up a new market for the current CMOS technologies.

50 Gb/s Si photonics transmit module. (a) and (b) are transmitter and receiver, respectively, with wavelength division multiplexing.

The article is entitled “Silicon photonics for telecom and data-com applications” and published in Opto-Electronic Advances Issue 10 2020.

About The Group

Prof. Kiyoshi Asakawa received his Ph. D degrees in physical engineering from The University of Tokyo. In 1968, he joined NEC central research laboratories. In 1981-1987 and 1996 – 2004, he was on assignment at Optoelectronic Joint Research Laboratory (OJL) to work on the III-V compound semiconductor dry etching for photonic devices and at Femtosecond Technology Research Association (FESTA) on the nano-processing technologies including photonic crystals and quantum dots for ultra-fast all-optical devices, respectively. In 2004 - 2008, 2007 – 2009 and 2010 - 2015, he was a professor of University of Tsukuba, adjunct auditor of National Institute of Materials Science (NIMS) and visiting professor of University of Tsukuba, respectively. In 1986, 1991 and 2015, he received the best paper award from The Japan Society of Applied Physics, the research award from The Agency of Science and Technology and the Nishizawa award from DPS 2015, respectively. His research and development concerns dry-etching for optoelectronic integrated circuits (OEICs), nano-photonics including photonic crystals, quantum dots, surface plasmon and their applications to advanced signal processing devices in photonic network and high-sensitivity bio-photonic sensors in a micro-fluidic bio-chemical system.

Prof. Yoshimasa Sugimoto received the Ph. D degree in electronic engineering from Shizuoka University, Shizuoka, Japan, in 1996. In 1980, he joined the Central Research Laboratories, NEC Corporation, Kawasaki. He has been engaged in the research and development of photo-detectors, VCSELs and dry etching process for III-V compound semiconductors. He joined the Femtosecond Technology Research Association (FESTA), where he developed nano-processing technologies of photonic crystals for ultra-fast photonic devices, from 2000 to 2004. Since 2007, he is engaged in the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), where he is currently developing nano-processing technologies of Nano-photonic devices such as photonic crystals for ultra-fast photonic devices, plasmonic and metamaterial devices. From 2004 to 2007, he was a Visiting Professor in the Center of Tsukuba Advanced Research Alliance (TARA), University of Tsukuba, Japan. From 2010 to 2018, he was a Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Ritsumeikan University.

Shigeru Nakamura received the B. S. and M. S. degrees in physics from the University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan, in 1988 and 1990, respectively. In 1990, he joined NEC Corporation, Tsukuba, Japan, and has been engaged in the research and development of ultrafast all-optical devices and sub-systems, silicon photonics devices and sub-systems, and then optical sensing sub-systems. He made many invited presentations in international conferences, and he received best paper awards in conferences such as OEC1994, OECC2002, and OECC2011.


Asakawa K, Sugimoto Y, Nakamura S. Silicon photonics for telecom and data-com applications Opto-Electron Adv 3, 200011 (2020).

DOI: 10.29026/oea.2020.200011