IBM makes photonic chip on 100nm process

IBM claims that it has developed a breakthrough silicon nanophotonics technology which allows the integration of different optical components side-by-side with electrical circuits on a single silicon chip using, for the first time, sub-100nm semiconductor technology.


Building on its initial proof of concept in 2010, IBM says it has solved the main challenges of transferring the silicon nanophotonics technology into the commercial foundry.

“By adding a few processing modules into a high-performance 90nm CMOS fabrication line, a variety of silicon nanophotonics components such as wavelength division multiplexers (WDM), modulators, and detectors are integrated side-by-side with a CMOS electrical circuitry,” said IBM.

This will make it possible for optical communications transceivers can be manufactured in a conventional semiconductor foundry.  

IBM’s CMOS nanophotonics technology demonstrates transceivers to exceed the data rate of 25Gbit/s per channel.

Using on-chip wavelength-division multiplexing devices it may be possible to allow future scaling of optical communications capable of delivering terabytes of data between distant parts of computer systems.  

Further details will be presented this week by Dr. Solomon Assefa at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) in the talk titled, “A 90nm CMOS Integrated Nano-Photonics Technology for 25Gbps WDM Optical Communications Applications.”

Additional information on the project can be found at

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