Prof. Ray Chen Selected for DoD Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) Award

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Prof. Ray Chen has been awarded a Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) award in Attojoule Nanooptoelectronics. The research center has been awarded with 6.5 million dollars to provide solutions to reduce the power consumption while increasing the bandwidth of data communications for data centers and computing systems using innovative nanophotonic devices. The research team includes the University of Virginia, the University of Central Florida, the University of Delaware and the Oregon State University.

Even if the continuation of Moore's law meets a bottleneck, the increasing trend of network connections and bandwidth consumed is accelerating with no foreseeable sign of halting because of the bandwidth-hungry applications. The total amount of content passing through the world’s networks is expected to increase to 35 Zettabytes with unprecedented power consumption by 2020, meaning that by the end of this decade, with current technologies, service providers will need an astonishing over 20 times of power consumption they have in 2016. Optoelectronic interconnects and optical logic gates provide key solutions to drastically reduce the power to modulate (e-to-o conversion), processing, transport, and demodulate (o-to-e) high speed signals with power consumption down to attojoule/bit (AJ/B) level. Furthermore, all the basic digital logic functions can be realized employing optical logic devices without energy consumption (0 joule/bit) while the calculation is being performed. Energy is only expended when the final result is being extracted. In electronics, energy is dissipated at each step along the calculation path. Another tremendous advantage over the conventional electronic scheme is the elimination of gate latency and simultaneous availability of a logic function and its complementary at the output, which makes this approach extremely efficient. 

In this program, the Texas-led MURI team proposes to provide solutions to the aforementioned challenges by a systematic AJ/B-affiliated device research covering power-saving nanolithography, chip design, lasers, modulators, waveguides, optical logic gates and photodetectors.  The following figure depicts the vision of the research team. 

Schematic of the proposed Attojoule/bit intra- and inter-chip optical computing and interconnects with all innovated active and passive devices on silicon platform​

This is the 2nd MURI center Dr. Chen led.  The first one is the Texas MURI center for silicon nanomembranes which can be found at

Ray Chen is the Keys and Joan Curry/Cullen Trust Endowed Chair at The University of Texas Austin. He is the director of the Nanophotonics and Optical Interconnects Research Lab, at the Microelectronics Research Center.  He is also the director of the newly formed AFOSR MURI-Center for Silicon Nanomembrane involving faculty from Stanford, UIUC, Rutgers, and UT Austin. His research work has been awarded over 120 research grants and contracts from such sponsors as Army, Navy, Air Force, DARPA, MDA, NSA, NSF, DOE, EPA, NIH, NASA, the State of Texas, and private industry.