Compound semiconductors are providing a resilient, secure and energy efficient base from which data can be exchanged at lightning-fast speeds with no delays

An energy efficient network to deliver Net Zero

Around two-thirds of the world’s population is now connected to the internet, with mobile devices accounting for almost 60% of total web traffic.  

With more users and data-hungry applications added to the network each day, it is being put under enormous strain and requires more energy to operate. 

By 2030, it is estimated that communications technology could contribute up to 23% of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

The unique properties of compound semiconductors such as gallium arsenide (GaAs), indium phosphide (InP) and gallium nitride (GaN) are playing an important role in reducing the energy footprint of the telecoms network.   

As users demand higher data rates, lower latency and increased bandwidth, compound semiconductors will be crucial to driving innovation and enabling the next generation of technologies. 

Key technologies

Power amplifiers

Power amplifiers boost the signals from a base station so they can reach our smartphones and computers. They are one of the most energy intensive parts of the telecoms network. The next generation of power amplifiers are using compound semiconductors to significantly reduce the overall energy consumption of the network.

Photonic integrated circuits

Photonic integrated circuits (PICs) use light to process and transmit data instead of electricity and are used extensively across the existing telecoms network. Integrating PICs with traditional silicon components — through a process known as co-packaged optics — has the potential to revolutionise the industry, increasing bandwidths and data speeds and reducing energy consumption.

Optical transceivers

Optical transceivers are a critical component within photonic integrated circuits (PICs), used for transmitting and receiving data over the optical network. The lasers within an optical transceiver are made from compound semiconductors, which emit light in a way that is not possible with traditional silicon semiconductors.

  • Faster speeds
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Higher security

As compound semiconductors operate at higher frequencies, compared to tradition silicon semiconductors, faster and more efficient communications system can be created. This will be essential to meeting the demands of data-intensive applications like 5G networks 

Compound semiconductors have excellent electron mobility, enabling highly sensitive and low-noise components crucial for high-speed data transmission and reception. 

Compound semiconductors are enabling more accurate and precise quantum hardware and repeaters to transmit quantum signals across the telecoms network. This will be indispensable for industries that rely on the secure transfer of data, such as defence, finance and healthcare. 

Related case studies

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