QUantum Dot On Silicon systems for communications, information processing and sensing (QUDOS)

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Electronic and Electrical Engineering


The sensing, processing and transport of information is at the heart of modern life, as can be seen from the ubiquity of smart-phone usage on any street. From our interactions with the people who design, build and use the systems that make this possible, we have created a programme to make possible the first data interconnects, switches and sensors that use lasers monolithically integrated on silicon, offering the potential to transform Information and Communication Technology (ICT) by changing fundamentally the way in which data is sensed, transferred between and processed on silicon chips. The work builds on our demonstration of the first successful telecommunications wavelength lasers directly integrated on silicon substrates. The QUDOS Programme will enable the monolithic integration of all required optical functions on silicon and will have a similar transformative effect on ICT to that which the creation of silicon integrated electronic circuits had on electronics. This will come about through removing the need to assemble individual components, enabling vastly increased scale and functionality at greatly reduced cost.

Planned Impact

The impacts of the QUDOS Programme Grant are anticipated to be very large. In ECONOMIC terms, the markets for integrated photonics technology are huge: for example the 2022 market for active optical cables is predicted to be > $3.5b with data centres the largest application area (AMR). The integration technology could also be used in WAN and access markets to give a total market size for optical transceivers of $6.9b by 2022 (Markets and Markets). The market for silicon-based photonics is already large ($627m in 2017) and is expected to grow to $2b by 2023 (Markets and Markets). The further impetus given by the ability to integrate optical sources monolithically on silicon as a result of this Programme could enable access to new markets, such as vehicle LIDAR, estimated to be worth $1.8b by 2023 (Markets and Markets). Further opportunities in the global photonics market, which was $557b in 2018 and is expected to grow to $780b by 2023 (Markets and Markets), can be expected.

The UK is particularly well placed to derive economic value from the QUDOS Programme. First, the scale of the UK photonics industry is large (output £13.5b pa with gross added value £5.3b pa, equivalent to the pharmaceutical, fintech and space sectors (PLG)). Second, the UK is unusual in having all elements of the value chain from materials to systems represented by world leading companies (eg IQE, Lumentum, II-VI, Airbus, Microsoft). The QUDOS Programme builds on the UK's current leadership in integrated photonics based on compound semiconductors (eg. Lumentum, II-VI) and silicon photonics (eg Rockley). To enable this new industry to flourish in the UK, the QUDOS programme has established links with UK companies throughout the value chain from design, materials and wafer fabrication to product manufacture and systems application.

The timescale anticipated for the economic impact of QUDOS to be observable is within a decade.

QUDOS will also train PEOPLE at doctoral and post-doctoral levelhaving the technological and applications perspectives to be future research leaders and role models. The QUDOS programme will make a major contribution to KNOWLEDGE through publication in leading peer-reviewed journals, presentations at leading international conferences and through direct engagement with end-users. It will also engage the wider public through press releases, events and social media. SOCIETY will benefit both economically and through the enabling by the QUDOS technology platform of improved and more cost effective communications, information processing and sensing, including for medical applications.


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