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Wednesday, 15 March 2023

MUSICIAN will develop Nano-Opto-Electro-Mechanical Systems for next generation wireless networks and the Internet of Things

by Virginia Greco

The project aims to apply the NOEMS technology, which is compatible with standard CMOS microelectronics, to optimise various functionalities of complex wireless networks, resulting in cheaper systems that consume less power. The ICN2 Phononic and Photonic Nanostructures Group, led by Prof. Dr Clivia Sotomayor-Torres, will participate in this research.

MUSICIAN (MUltifunctional SIliCon Integrated NOEMS for broadband Access Networks) is a new project, in which the ICN2 Phononic and Photonic Nanostructures Group is participating, that will develop devices for next-generation wireless networks and the implementation of the Internet of Things. Coordinated by the Nanophotonic Technology Centre (NTC) of the Polytechnic University of Valencia, it will also involve researchers from the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, and the CNRS - Délégation Régionale Hauts-de-France.

MUSICIAN will focus on the development and application of Nano-Opto-Electro-Mechanical Systems (NOEMS) to optimise access network devices. NOEMS are devices in which electrons, photons (optical waves) and phonons (mechanical vibrations) can coexist and interact at the nanoscale. Upon proper engineering, NOEMS may perform functionalities that are essential in information and communication systems, in particular in access networks that are characterized by requiring an interface with optical fibres and that manage microwave channels (in the GHz regime) in which the information aimed at a certain user is encoded.

The need for such electro-optical interfaces will be more evident with the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) paradigm, which will require the massive deployment of access points with microwave and optical interfaces to serve as a link between the network and the devices to be connected. To this purpose, any technology to be used should be compatible with silicon CMOS microelectronics to ensure mass-scale production at low cost.

The long-term vision of MUSICIAN is that next generation access networks, required to implement the IoT paradigm, can include low-cost silicon NOEMS to perform various network functionalities – such as production of photonic local oscillations, frequency conversion or channel filtering. To implement this vision, researchers will use a nanocrystalline-silicon NOEMS platform containing aluminium nitride (AlN) interdigital transducers and optomechanical nanobeam cavities, so that multiple functionalities will be available on a single chip.

MUSICIAN will improve the current performance by achieving more efficient electro-mechanical interfaces to reduce power consumption and by investigating the fundamentals of frequency fluctuations of mechanical resonators to increase oscillator quality. The aim is to demonstrate that NOEMS technology can be disruptive in 5G as well as in next-generation access networks required by IoT.


Image: The logos of the project and of the funding agencies and images of the core of the optical loop experimental setup to be used in MUSICIAN. [Credit: ICN2]

Funding information:

MUltifunctional SIliCon Integrated NOEMS for broadband Access Networks (MUSICIAN). Reference: PCI2022-135001-2. The contract is part of the European Union CHIST-ERA project.  Funded by MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033 and by European Union “NextGenerationEU”/PRTR”.