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Radiofrequency & silicon photonics for high-performance, low-power, secure data transmission

​​As the number of IoT connections continues to expand, new data communication link solutions will be needed to cope with the data deluge and enable a more sustainable digital (r)evolution.​
Published on 17 July 2023


CEA’s datacom solutions are built on some of the most advanced radiofrequency (RF) and silicon photonic (SiPho) technologies available anywhere, for high-performance, low-power, secure data transfer over the air or using light.

Our RF devices are built on low-cost, off-the-shelf semiconductors, making them ideal for volume manufacturing scenarios. The difference is in CEA’s innovative architectures, signal processing algorithms, and antennas. In fact, antennas play a vital role in overall data transmission efficiency. We offer very advanced smart radiating elements to support new beam-forming/beam-steering and reconfigurable surface technologies to limit costs and losses.

Silicon photonic devices transmit data using light. They improve power efficiency, latency and capacity of optical data links and can be manufactured using proven 12" wafer CMOS processes. CEA’s photonic devices draw on our unique expertise in III-V materials integration using the most advanced deposition and bonding techniques around and state-of-the-art patterning technologies for increasingly tiny features

Datacom chips at or beyond the state of the art

CEA’s RF devices address datacoms for mobility, IoT and object/asset tracking, and personal radar. Manufacturers like STMicroelectronics, Astrocast, Radiall, and Safran have developed new products or improved existing ones with our RF solutions. Our SiPho technologies are found in Scintil Photonics high-speed transceivers, and we are working on integrated pulsed lasers and low-power pJ phase shifters for spiking neural networks and ultra-low loss SiN photonic chips with integrated single-photon detection capabilities for secure quantum communication and computing.

CEA’s state-of-the-art (and beyond) RF chips and systems leverage holistic architectures developed specifically to deliver high performance and very low power consumption from 1 GHz up to the sub-THz/140 GHz bands. Our very advanced packaging techniques enable high-density, low-loss chip designs, and highly efficient radiating antenna designs. We support complex modulation schemes and UWB data transmission for full CMOS implementation. We also possess all the IP blocks needed for the RFIC front end. 

Our silicon photonics labs can produce 60 nm feature sizes on 12" SOI wafers with integrated Ge photodiodes, modulators, and III-V/Si lasers. We also possess expertise in packaging and photonic through-silicon vias, which allows us to create high-density interconnects.

CEA has developed a first demonstrator that reaches speeds of up to 140 Gb/ s. This technology meets both high performance, low energy and low cost requirements.​

With its enhanced RF performance, it is no surprise that Soitec’s RF-SOI substrate and Smart CutTM process, invented at CEA, are used to make the circuits and transmitter-receiver modules inside every smartphone on the market.

​​​                         “Data transmission is a major energy consumer
                         in all kinds of systems. Our high-performance,
                    low-power, secure solutions address these challenges.”​​​
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                                                        Eric Mercier, Telecom Line Director, CEA

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Success stories ​

CEA & Scintil Photonics pioneer high-speed transmission for data centers

This CEA startup develops siliconbased photonic integrated circuits and creates high-speed optical transmission solutions for data storage centers, high-performance computing, and 5G.

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​A​​​strocast nanosatellite network uses CEA RF chip

​Astrocast worked with CEA to develop a low-cost, bidirectional communication module that companies can use to stay connected to remote assets in areas not covered by terrestrial networks.