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  5. Ma receives $353K to seek new laser for silicon chips

Ma receives $353K to seek new laser for silicon chips

Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Zhenqiang (Jack) Ma received a three-year grant of $352,982 from the National Science Foundation to develop a vertical cavity edge-emitting laser (VCEEL). In 2012, Ma and Weidong Zhou, a collaborator at the University of Texas, Arlington, demonstrated the world’s thinnest vertical cavity surface emitting laser, a membrane reflector VCSEL (published in Nature Photonics, July 2012) on silicon. The thinness of the laser would facilitate its monolithic integration on a silicon chip, which is highly desired for silicon photonics. But the surface-emitting feature of the laser makes lateral light coupling, guiding and routing less attractive than edge-emitting lasers—yet a traditional edge emitting laser is a lot more bulky and occupies significant chip area than a VCSEL. The new laser to be developed by Ma and his collaborator will combine the compactness advantage of the membrane reflector VCSEL and the lateral coupling benefits of traditional edge-emitting lasers. The new type of laser may impact silicon photonics and many other related applications.

Scott Gordon