After decades of process scaling driven by Moores law, the silicon microelectronics world is now defined by length scales that are many times smaller than the dimensions of typical micro-optical components. This size mismatch poses an important challenge for those working to integrate photonics with complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) electronics technology. One promising solution is to fabricate optical systems at metal/dielectric interfaces, where electromagnetic modes called surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs) offer unique opportunities to confine and control light at length scales below 100nm (refs 1, 2). Research groups working in the rapidly developing field of plasmonics have now demonstrated many passive components3,4 that suggest the potential of SPPs for applications in sensing5 and optical communication6. Recently, active plasmonic devices based on III–V materials7–9 and organic materials10 have been reported. An electrical source of SPPs was recently demonstrated using organic semiconductors by Koller and colleagues11. Here we show that a silicon-based electrical source for SPPs can be fabricated using established lowtemperature microtechnology processes that are compatible with back-end CMOS technology.

D. van Oosten
Nature Mater.
Photonic Materials

Walters, R. J., van Loon, R. V. A., Brunets, I., Schmitz, J., & Polman, A. (2010). A silicon-based electrical source of surface plasmon polaritons. Nature Mater., 9, 21–25. doi:10.1038/nmat2595