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Materials for a next-generation (nano-)opto-electro-mechanical systems

Project description

Characterising nanocrystalline silicon for next-generation (nano-)opto-electro-mechanical systems

Optoelectronics integrating diverse electronics with optical systems have fostered tremendous advances in information and communications technologies (ICT). Opto-electro-mechanical systems have integrated the use of laser light to control mechanical vibrations in resonators. Now, nano-opto-electro-mechanical systems (NOEMS) are allowing the unprecedented control of light in nanophotonic structures, opening the door to a new era of integrated, efficient and low-power ICT devices. The EU-funded MAGNIFIC project will develop a flexible and up-scalable technology platform based on promising nanocrystalline silicon (nc-Si) and its integration with columnar aluminium nitride to support the exploitation of NOEMS. Improved characterisation of absorption and dissipation mechanisms at the nanoscale in nc-Si will lead to an optimised interface between radio-frequency electronics and telecommunication-wavelength optics.


Nano-opto-electro-mechanics (NOEMS) is an emerging field with unparalleled prospects for the design of efficient and low-power devices for ICT. However, to capitalize NOEMS potential, a flexible and up-scalable technology platform must be established, preferably based on current microelectronic technology.
MAGNIFIC aims at filling this gap focusing on nanocrystalline silicon (nc-Si), only recently used in NOEMS with very promising results, and its integration with columnar aluminium nitride. Indeed, while nc-Si is widely used in MEMS production, the dynamics of such an optically and electrically active nanocrystalline material has barely been investigated, leaving fundamental gaps in the understanding of the interplay between electrons, phoTons and phoNons.
In this context, we propose an up-scalable, cost efficient, room temperature and Si-compatible nano-opto-electro-mechanical platform for powering efficient communications technologies. The key challenge is to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the static and dynamic material properties and their interdependence. In particular, understanding the role of nano-crystallites and grain boundaries in absorption and in dissipation mechanisms at the nanoscale is crucial for energy efficiency and for reliable performance as they are intrinsically linked to losses and variability.
The aimed platform will provide a coherent interface between RF electronics and telecom-wavelength optics mediated by phoNons, able to provide different functionalities (local oscillation, frequency conversion, modulation) in highly compact, energy efficient devices.
The project starts at TRL3, achieved via two previous EC projects, and brings the system to TRL5 realizing devices and circuits, suitably packaged, and environmentally tested with RF frequencies in the 3-12 GHz range. This will allow to cover a broad variety of ICT applications including pervasive wireless networks (5G and beyond), smart cities, IoT and satellite communications.


Net EU contribution
€ 716 859,38
Other funding
€ 0,00

Participants (6)