Ultra-fast graphene photodetectors for data communications

The continuous exponential growth of communication data volumes begs for novel technological solutions. Our entire society depends on continued expansion of transmission capacities and rates. Since modern communication channels primarily rely on optical technologies, it is of utmost importance to develop new photodetectors with increased bandwidth, speed, and data transport capacity.

Graphenea has joined three other companies to address this challenge by producing graphene photodetectors. Project ULTRAPHO is carried by a consortium that covers the entire value chain of the novel product, from fabrication to the customer. The project, funded by the European Commission under its Horizon 2020 program, will last 24 months, with the final goal to establish a novel world leading enterprise in the semiconductor industry in the EU.

Technical and business objectives of the project are to create a novel ultrafast photodetector and validate it for industrial acceptance, to market a mass production process for fabrication of graphene-on-wafer, to increase the yield of the fabrication process, optimizing quality control, to market tools for automated wafer-scale assembly and characterization of high-speed photonic devices, and to scale production capacity to 10,000 wafers per year. The size of the target market is over 41 B€.

Graphenea (GS) coordinates the project, partnering with AMO GmbH (AMO, foundry and photonic circuit manufacturer), Black Semiconductor (BLK, photodetector product designer and manufacturer), and Etteplan (ETP, formerly Tegema, an automated assembly developer). Together, these companies from three different European countries join hands to help cross the “Death Valley” of commercialization of top research results.

The business opportunity is the integration of graphene-on-wafer into graphene photonic products, increasing their performance and cost-efficiency. This is the first time that highly scalable mass production methods are applied to make cutting edge ultrafast datacom products become a commodity. Customers express that they see a major potential to increase ultrafast datacom device volumes significantly, but the price of the chips needs to be well below current prices. Reaching the main goals of the project will enable a significant price reduction of graphene-based photodetectors, giving the consortium and Europe as a whole a leading edge in this sector.

Stay tuned with our blog and follow us on social networks as we report on the progress of this project.