Silicon Nanocrystal Optical Resonator


Silicon is the principal material used in microelectronics, due in part to its low cost and high abundance. However, there are problems inherent in the miniaturization of conventional microelectronics, such as cross-talk (interference) and increased heat dissipation. To overcome these challenges and to increase the speed of computing, there is a push towards photonics, particularly a system based on silicon in order to retain cost advantages and material compatibility.

Researchers at the University of Alberta have developed a method to generate luminescence from silicon nanocrystals that is strongly coupled to a high-quality optical resonator. The method is simple and reproducible and the materials are relatively inexpensive. The resulting product is applicable to the development of a silicon-based laser and optical sensors, for example, biochemical sensors for use in microfluidics. More information is available in the journal publication Applied Physics Letters 92, 131119 (2008).



  • Compatible with current microelectronics
  • High Q-factor resonator
  • Simple, reproducible method that is adaptable to different resonant cavity structures
  • Inexpensive materials
  • Could be developed into silicon LEDs, lasers, waveguide amplifiers, and ultra-sensitive sensors


Potential Markets

The present invention represents a significant opportunity within the photonics, microfluidics, and sensor industries due to the low cost and high quality of the device. It may also be applicable to the display sector.

Protection Status

Patent pending

Product Number


Contact Information

Shalon McFarlane
Technology Management Group
TEC Edmonton – University of Alberta
Phone: 780-492-0230