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American Institute of Physics



Book Review

Silicon Optoelectronic Integrated Circuits

Horst Zimmermann
Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, 2004
352 pp., $129.00 hb
ISBN 3-540-40518-6

Reviewed by Michael Hargrove

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Integrating optoelectronics into the world of silicon technology is perhaps one of the most interesting and challenging fields of active research and development. Millions of people around the world are virtually connected at the push of the Send button on their cell phones. In addition, the information sent out across the ether is not only voice but also graphical in nature, as in pictures. The integrated camera cell phone requires this coupling of silicon technology and optoelectronics. Numerous other consumer electronic devices integrate optical photodetectors and silicon technology as well. It is for this reason that Silicon Optoelectronic Integrated Circuits by Horst Zimmermann is so timely and important.

Zimmermann has published extensively in the field of optoelectronics and, in fact, wrote the predecessor to this book, entitled Integrated Silicon Optoelectronics (Springer-Verlag, 2000). With his latest text, Zimmermann has added significantly to the field, incorporating more recent results published in many journals and conference proceedings. More specifically, he has added an entire chapter devoted to integrated optical receiver circuits, as well as more in-depth coverage of various silicon optoelectronic integrated circuits (SOEICs), including complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) optical sensors and smart pixel sensors.

The book starts at square one with a simplified discussion of optical absorption and carrier photogeneration. The author discusses the optical absorption of some of the more important semiconductor materials, and he presents the concept of the absorption coefficient as a function of incident wavelength very simply and clearly. The important physical models of photodetectors are described from the context of carrier drift and diffusion, and also carrier lifetime. The basic PIN photodiode is used as the primary example, and the concepts of quantum efficiency (internal and external) and responsivity are introduced and derived from it, including a discussion of antireflection coating.

Three distinct chapters are devoted to integrated silicon photodetectors in various technologies, including bipolar, BiCMOS, bulk-CMOS, silicon-on-insulator, and silicon-germanium. In each case, the author thoroughly describes the technology processing steps and identifies the key steps that influence the characteristics of the integrated photodetectors and phototransistors. Numerous examples of different types of photodetectors, and how they are integrated into the specific technology, are given. In the case of CMOS technology, the author describes a single- and double-well process, as well as p-type and n-type substrate effects and latch-up considerations. There is a short section on charge-couple device image sensors, active pixel sensors, and amorphous-silicon image sensors.

The bulk of the text is devoted to the design of optical receiver circuits, including a section on circuit simulators and transistor models. The transimpedance amplifier is the workhorse example, and a complete theoretical description is given of its frequency response, phase and group delay, stability and compensation, bandwidth constraints, and noise sensitivity. Finally, a complete chapter is devoted to design examples of SOEICs, including digital CMOS synchronous and asynchronous circuits, laser driver circuits, and numerous analog circuits.

Devoted to the integration of silicon optoelectronic circuits, this book is well written and understandable. As a semiconductor device engineer with a keen interest in optoelectronics, I found the book to be well worth my reading and studying time. I believe the text will also be valuable for experts in the field.


Michael Hargrove is a senior consulting engineer at Epson Research and Development in Wappingers Falls, New York.