Nanowire Array Micro-LEDs in Quantum Well Technology: Revolutionizing On-Chip Optical Communication

A recent publication in Opto-Electronic Science introduces a groundbreaking technology: the multiwavelength high-speed quantum well nanowire array micro-LED. This innovation is poised to revolutionize on-chip optical communication for the next generation.

As the number of processor cores continues to increase, the conventional electrical networks face significant challenges related to latency, limited bandwidth, and high power consumption. Researchers have long sought alternatives, and on-chip nanophotonic systems have emerged as a promising solution. These systems leverage light for data transmission, offering distinct advantages over electrical signals due to light’s speed and capacity for carrying data through multiplexing technologies.

Central to on-chip optical networks are miniaturized light sources like micro-/nano-scale lasers or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). However, most advancements in micro-/nano-LEDs have focused on III-nitride materials at visible wavelengths. There has been limited progress in high-speed infrared micro-LEDs at telecommunication wavelengths, which are vital for the future development of Li-Fi technology, photonic integrated circuits (PICs), and various biological applications.

Epitaxial-grown In(Ga)As(P)/InP nanowires offer significant potential for miniaturized LEDs and lasers in the telecommunication wavelength range. Their tunable wide bandgap allows for the monolithic integration of multi-wavelength light sources on a single chip through a single epitaxial growth process. This capability enhances data transmission capacity through wavelength division multiplexing and multiple-input multiple-output technologies.

Key Research Findings and Demonstrations:

– The authors of this study successfully demonstrated selective-area growth and fabrication of highly uniform p-i-n core-shell InGaAs/InP single quantum well (QW) nanowire array LEDs. Detailed images and spectroscopy analysis confirmed the composition and uniformity of the QW nanowires.
– The QW nanowire LEDs exhibited bias-dependent electroluminescence (EL) spanning telecommunication wavelengths (1.35~1.6 μm), with two prominent EL peaks.
– The full width at half-maximum of the EL spectrum was approximately 286 nm, indicating potential applications in optical coherence tomography and bio-sensing.
– The authors showcased the multi-wavelength tunability of the QW nanowire array by varying the pitch sizes of the nanowire arrays on the same substrate. This tunability covered the telecommunication C band.
– The potential for further enhancing communication capacity was demonstrated by integrating multiple multi-wavelength micro-LEDs on the same chip, showcasing the promise of wavelength division multiplexing.

In conclusion, this research highlights the development of highly uniform p-i-n core-shell InGaAs/InP single QW nanowire array micro-LEDs. These LEDs offer voltage-controlled multi-wavelength operation covering telecommunication wavelengths, making them highly compatible with high-speed communication technologies. This work paves the way for nanoscale on-chip light sources in next-generation integrated optical communication systems. [Reference: “High-speed multiwavelength InGaAs/InP quantum well nanowire array micro-LEDs for next-generation optical communications” by Fanlu Zhang et al., published on June 26, 2023, in Opto-Electronic Science, DOI: 10.29026/oes.2023.230003]

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