The rapid advancement of digital technology in the last two decades has promoted a need for electronic devices with high computing power. To meet this growing demand, scientists are searching for new materials to complement the existing electronics (Liu, et al., 2020).
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A popular way to enhance the performance of the devices is by using proper materials. Due to their incredible optical properties, two-dimensional materials (2D) are a proven choice in numerous applications in photonics, particularly in optoelectronic devices, such as optical fibers, photovoltaic cells, sensing, quantum computing, and security (Kumbhakar, Gowda, & Tiwary, 2021).
Optoelectronics is the study of optical power from light-detecting devices, which functions as an electrical-to-optical or optical-to-electrical transducer. However, the challenges in light-matter interactions and optical integration for large-scale production have been the subject of concern for a long time and the future integrated circuits must aim to attain lower power consumption, high efficiency, lower carbon footprint, and higher speed (Bettotti, 2014). Scientists have a good reason to believe that next-generation 2D materials can address these challenges.
Next-Generation 2D Materials
Through their van der Waals forces, 2D materials can directly combine with other structures. Their excellent tunable band structure, ultra-fast carrier mobility, and ultra-high nonlinear co-efficiency can be utilized in various applications in optoelectronic devices.
The development of optoelectronic devices is based on III-V and Si materials. As silicon is an abundant material, it is low cost, has high compatibility with the complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor industry, and delivers a promising future in upscaling. However, they still possess lower efficiency and lack highly efficient optical properties.
In a recent development, nanotubes replaced silicon as transistors to build a microprocessor (Hills, et al., 2019). Given the excellent properties of a semiconductor, the use of nanotubes could ultimately pave the way for more efficient, faster, and smaller carbon components for computer processors.
The 2D materials, such as graphene, black phosphorous (BP), and transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), are being tested in optical communication, biosensing, biomedical, laser sources, and photodetectors (Cheng, et al., 2021).
Distinctively, graphene has attracted considerable attention in different applications, including super-fast electronics, ultra-sensitive sensors, and incredibly durable materials. Its carbon atoms are linked up in such a manner that each atom shares electrons with three neighboring carbon atoms, allowing any added electrons to move speedily across the surface. In an early experiment, graphene gained an advantage over other conducting metals by running electrons at about 106 meters per second, much faster than ordinary conductors (Dumé, 2005).
Role of Graphene in Photonics
Carbon atoms have a hexagonal arrangement which provides graphene material unique physical and chemical properties that expands an exceptional foundation for photonics applications (Chhantyal, 2020).
The absorption spectrum of graphene is in visible, infrared, and terahertz light but it can be manipulated by introducing material doping or applying an external electric field.
With the shift in the absorption spectrum, graphene is ideal to be used as optical modulators (Obodo, Ahmad, & Ezema, 2019). Last year, graphene was successfully integrated with silicon photonics to meet the next generation challenges of increasing available bandwidth, reducing size, cost, and power consumption (Marconi, et al., 2021).
In other research, (Chen, Wang, Gu, Yang, & Yu, 2021) developed graphene-coupled silicon photonic crystal (PhC) devices for light detection, modulation, and switching in a single device. Their experiment successfully showed the increase in absorption by the integration of graphene.
Current and Future Developments
The field of photonics is the backbone of data dissemination with wireless communications.
Analyzing the current optoelectronics market demand, it is expected to grow at an annual growth rate of 10.25% from 2019 to 2024, making it a significant part of the global semiconductor market (businesswire, 2019).
The use of optoelectronic devices is also expected to boost the automotive industry. As the demand rises, the requirement for low-cost technologies is also expected. As a result, the future of optoelectronics is expected to face the challenges of better performance in terms of broad frequency coverage, considerable direct bandwidth, robust electromagnetic interference resistance, and low frequency-dependent loss.
The demand for using biodegradable materials has given extra pressure to re-design the current optoelectronics system according to the current emission requirement. (Thimbleby, 2013). This provides clear opportunities for R&D, where scientists can properly investigate in areas of performance improvement, cost reduction, and upscaling.
One excellent example is UCL's Photonics and Optical Networks research group, which is running nearly 70 fascinating research subjects that will have a significant impact on both social and economic positions (Stensborg, 2022).
In the future, optoelectronics is expected to advance food production, transport, communications manufacturing, and military applications. This means the choice of next-generation 2D materials in optoelectronics will define the society we live in, from quantum communications to an all-optical internet.
References and Further Reading
Bettotti, P. (2014). Hybrid Materials for Integrated Photonics. Advances in Optics. doi:10.1155/2014/891395
businesswire. (2019) The Global Optoelectronics Market to 2024: Projecting a CAGR of 10.25% - ResearchAndMarkets.com. [Online] businesswire. Available at: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190621005446/en/The-Global-Optoelectronics-Market-to-2024-Projecting-a-CAGR-of-10.25 (Accessed on 18 January 2022).
Chen, X., Wang, F., Gu, Q., Yang, J., & Yu, M. (2021). Multifunctional optoelectronic device based on graphene-coupled silicon photonic crystal cavities. Optics Express. doi:10.1364/OE.421596
Cheng, Z., Cao, R., Wei, K., Yao, Y., Liu, X., Kang, J., & Dong, J. (2021). 2D Materials Enabled Next-Generation Integrated Optoelectronics: from Fabrication to Applications. Advanced Science. doi:10.1002/advs.202003834
Chhantyal, P (2020) Antibacterial Applications of Graphene-Based Nanomaterials. [Online] AZoNano. Available at: https://www.azonano.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=5481 (Accessed on 18 January 2022).
Dumé, I. (2005) Electrons lose their mass in carbon sheets. [Online] physicsworld: https://physicsworld.com/a/electrons-lose-their-mass-in-carbon-sheets/ (Accessed on 18 January 2022).
Hills, G., Lau, C., Wright, A., Fuller, S., Bishop, M. D., Srimani, T., & Kanhaiya, P. (2019). Modern microprocessor built from complementary carbon nanotube transistors. Nature. doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1493-8
Kumbhakar, P., Gowda, C. C., & Tiwary, C. S. (2021). Advance Optical Properties and Emerging Applications of 2D Materials. Front. Mater. doi:10.3389/fmats.2021.721514
Liu, C., Chen, H., Wang, S., Liu, Q., Jiang, Y.-G., Zhang, D. W., . . . Zhou, P. (2020). Two-dimensional materials for next-generation computing technologies. Nature Nanotechnology. doi:10.1038/s41565-020-0724-3
Marconi, S., Giambra, M. A., Montanaro, A., Mišeikis, V., Soresi, S., Tirelli, S., . . . Buchali, F. (2021). Photo thermal effect graphene detector featuring 105 Gbit s−1 NRZ and 120 Gbit s−1 PAM4 direct detection. Nature Communications. doi:10.1038/s41467-021-21137-z
Obodo, R., Ahmad, I., & Ezema, F. I. (2019). Introductory Chapter: Graphene and Its Applications. doi:10.5772/intechopen.86023
Stensborg (2022) The Future of Photonics. [Online] AZoM: https://www.azom.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=20848 (Accessed on 18 January 2022).
Thimbleby, H. (2013). Technology and the future of healthcare. Journal of Public Health Research. doi:10.4081/jphr.2013.e28
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