III-V Materials and Devices
Photonics – the generation, control and manipulation of light - has revolutionised our world over the past decade. Internet communications use the fibre optic backbone to transmit terabytes of data using pulses of infrared light. Mobile phones, laptop computer displays and now televisions are lit with highly efficient white light emitting diodes (LEDs). Hundreds of gigabytes of data can be stored on a single DVD thanks to blue laser diodes while photovoltaic solar panels can provide a remarkable 40% efficiency in the conversion of sunlight into electricity. These examples are only the start: Light based medical treatments and diagnostic tools are permitting more precise medical procedures and earlier detection of illness while light based sensors can detect tiny amounts of gases and other materials (e.g. proteins). To us it is clear that photonics will be as key a technology for the 21st century as electronics was for the 20th addressing such disparate issues as environmental concerns and technological limitations of current technology.
Key opportunities for photonics in the coming decades are in:
- Replacement of current household lighting by cleaner and more efficient semiconductors LED based light sources
- Converting free sunlight into multi gigawatts of electrical power
- Getting high bandwidth communications to each home in excess of telephone-line based broadband technology
- Solving the data interconnect problem limiting computer clock speed
- Increasing the data storage density into the terabit per square inch range
The beating heart of all these applications are semiconductor devices based upon atomic elements from group III and group V of the periodic table. Compounds of these materials such as GaAs, InP and GaN emit light when electrical current is applied and therefore are at the core of our device research at Tyndall. The characteristics of these materials are realised by engineering the layers of crystalline semiconductors deposited on a suitable substrate with nanometric precision using epitaxial techniques. From these designed structures we build photonic sources that can generate and detect light in the UV, visible, and infrared parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. These sources have unique physical structures added to them during the fabrication process to provide unique qualities for the device performance. The devices are integrated together, packaged and used in applications both at Tyndall and in industry in conjunction with our industrial partners.
Our primary research is in the materials and devices for optical communications, in the most efficient laser light source namely vertical cavity surface emitting lasers (VCSELs) and in visible devices based on gallium materials and devices. We are always looking for bright students who are excited by the technology and who see opportunities in getting the technology to market.
Brian Corbett Postal Address:
Phone: 021-490 4380
Tyndall National Institute