SMART Cymru supports Compound Semiconductor Centre Ltd to develop a process to manufacture a low cost, high specification microchip laser


High bandwidth fibre optics networks use high specification, compound semiconductor (CS) microchip laser sources, also used in LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) markets for navigation and obstacle avoidance by autonomous cars and robots. These advanced lasers require high quality, high power light from a highly specialised design called a Distributed Feedback (DFB) laser.

For the market to grow to accommodate the number of devices needed, the technology needs to be commoditised to drive a cost reduction of ~10x. In this project Compound Semiconductor Centre Ltd (CSC) will develop a proof of concept of a high-power DFB laser design and method of production, which replaces a time-consuming, expensive electron-beam lithographic step, with a cheap and fast imprint “stamping” process to produce the embedded gratings in the DFB laser structure.

If successful, this project will deliver a new ‘value-add’ material-scale product, which will increase yield, lower production lead-times and costs of DFB laser manufacture. It will have a significant impact in the compound semi-conductor industry, seen as a global growth sector, where Wales is taking a lead, and contribute to the longer term sustainable growth of the company.

The Compound Semiconductor Centre was founded in 2015 as a Joint Venture between Cardiff University and IQE Plc, with the mission of accelerating commercialisation of Compound Semiconductor Materials and Device Research and realising a tangible economic return on the UK investment in this key area of enabling technology. Based in Cardiff, the Centre is a vital milestone towards developing a World-class Compound Semiconductor Technology cluster in South Wales.