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 level, having 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.
Description We have shown for the first time that it is possible to integrate efficient, reliable electrically powered lasers on silicon substrates. Since silicon is a low cost, environmentally sustainable platform for photonics and electronics, our achievement paves the way to low cost integrated photonic and electronic systems. We have patented this technology.
Exploitation Route The intellectual property could be licensed for commercial manufacture of silicon photonic integrated circuits incorporating reliable electrically powered lasers.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/iccs/research-projects/2021/jun/quantum-dot-silicon-systems-communications-information-processing-and
Description We have filed a first patent on the underlying integration technology for quantum dot laser integration in silicon-based photonic integrated circuits. This has now progressed to National stage in the major potential market countries. A US company, Quintessent has been formed by researchers previously at the University of California, Santa Barbara that seeks to exploit the quantum dot laser on silicon technology that we have demonstrated in photonic integrated circuits.
First Year Of Impact 2022
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Societal,Economic

Description C-band quantum-dot lasers on monolithically grown Si platform
Amount £729,746 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/V029606/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2021 
End 10/2024
Description School Visit- Ealing 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Name and location - St. Benedict's Nursery and Junior School, 5 Montpelier Avenue, Ealing, W5 2XP

Dates of visit - 28th Feb to 4th March

Age range of children - 5 to 11 year olds

Nature of outreach activity - To introduce some fundamental concepts in science such as electromagnetism and metrology, as well as more modern branches of science including robotics and photonics, to KS1 and KS2 children in a fun and engaging manner through interactive demonstrations and experiments. In addition, each session allowed the children to probe into the life of a scientific researcher via open discussions (Q&A style) which also aimed to recognise that science is for everyone regardless of preconceptions about gender, socio-economic background, ethnicity etc.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022