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Si-Light wins funding to commercialize silicon LED

16 Aug 2006

University spin-off exploits dislocation loops to force light out of silicon.

Si-Light, a spin-out from the UK's University of Surrey, has received equity seed funding worth £150,000 ($284,000) to develop silicon-based light emitters.

The company, which says that its technology is compatible with standard semiconductor manufacturing processes, will use cash from the UK's Cascade Fund to complete prototype designs of emitter-waveguide systems.

Si-Light's technology is based on the discovery by its founder Kevin Homewood, a professor at the University of Surrey, that silicon featuring so-called "dislocation loops" can emit light. These dislocation loops, which are formed by implanting the silicon with rare-earth materials, produce strains that confine charge carriers and so improve the silicon's radiative efficiency.

"The frequency of light emission depends on what is implanted in the silicon," commented Si-Light CEO Kevin Arthur. "We want to look at different rare-earths and their impact on what is effectively a silicon LED."

Si-Light has already demonstrated a silicon LED emitting at 1.5 µm. The company also plans to make 1.3 µm emitters and, eventually, a laser.

Arthur believes that the technology could find applications in fiber-to-the-home communication systems, as well as optical links between microprocessors for advanced computing.

Arthur said the latest round of funding would be used to develop a business plan that will be presented to venture capital companies later this year. John Read, who was appointed chairman in April 2005. said the money would also allow Si-Light to expand its demonstration capability. "At present all our emitters are in bulk silicon, but there is also an opportunity to demonstrate our compatibility with silicon-on-insulator," he said.

The financing was led by the Cascade Fund, which provides financial and business assistance to spin-off companies from five universities in the south-east of England.

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