Graphene for Optoelectronics and Photonics Applications
Graphene Flagship Business Developer at ICFO, Olivier Messager, offers his insights on graphene applications in photonics and optoelectronics.
Olivier Messager is the business developer for the Optoelectronics & Photonics and Flexible markets within the Graphene Flagship at ICFO. Olivier has 15 years of international experience in microelectronics industry as well as a background in sciences and technology business development and technology transfer. He offers his insights on graphene applications in photonics and optoelectronics.
Q: What is the current state of graphene for photonics and optoelectronics?
Graphene and 2D materials bring unique physical properties to photonic and optronic applications like high carrier mobility and broadband absorption meaning higher performance. On the other hand, graphene and 2D materials have demonstrated excellent compatibility with conventional CMOS manufacturing processes, meaning the capability to piggy back on the cost reduction, miniaturisation and low power consumption demonstrated over the years by CMOS electronic devices.
Since 2013 and the launch of the Graphene Flagship, graphene-based photonic prototype devices have been demonstrated in various market applications:
- Data communication: ultra-high speed photonic (de) modulators or Terahertz detectors for 6G applications
- Imaging devices: broadband image detectors from UV to IR
- Light spectroscopy: in the UV, NIR, SWIR or LWIR light spectrum
- Sensors (flexible): chemical, mechanical (pressure, strain) or biological sensing
Another application area relates to Terahertz band (30um to 3 mm wavelengths) with unique properties for depth imaging (as Xray or ultrasounds), spectroscopy and data-communications. For years exotic and expensive materials and process technologies have prevented the emergence of adequate sources and detectors for the commercial deployment of THz devices. Recent graphene-based THz devices have leapfrogged conventional devices in terms of speed, dynamic range as well as integration with CMOS process technology. These breakthroughs open the door to faster THz commercialisation for 6G datacom, chemical sensing, depth imaging, non destructive testing of dielectric materials and healthcare applications.
As a conclusion, graphene and 2D materials are about to bring a paradigm shift in photonic and optronic applications with higher performance devices at lower cost and power consumption.
Q: What challenges does graphene face in becoming integrated in photonics and optoelectronics?
In the next three years, the aim is to advance the commercialisation of the components and increase their TRL by integration in fully functional prototypes with testing in relevant environments (TRL5-6). Many spearhead projects like Autovision for advanced vision in degraded environments have been funded through the Graphene Flagship, bringing relevant industrial players along the supply chain to achieve this goal. A second objective relates to the improvement of the component Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) through the support and collaboration with the 2D-Experimental Pilot Line (2D-EPL) for preparing the upstream value chain for the commercial introduction and scale-up of 2D materials-based photonic devices.
Q: What photonics and optoelectronics products or prototypes containing graphene are currently available?
Beyond the next three years and expected achievements of higher Technology and Manufacturing Readiness of prototype devices in datacom, imaging, spectroscopy and sensing applications, commercial products shall be ready to be introduced into the market. Numerous start-up companies have already been founded to promote graphene based devices and initiate the qualification of graphene based devices in these markets. They include: