It is a common opinion to think that conversion between optics to electronics and back to optics (“OEO” conversion) necessarily consumes large amounts of energy and is generally inefficient. However, this is just a consequence of how we typically perform such conversions, how well integrated the optics and electronics are, and the additional “systems” processes we often perform at the same time. When electronic and optoelectronic devices are tightly integrated, e.g., within microns, in systems that avoid logically complex interface circuits, then this conversion can be quite efficient and fast. Such efficient conversions are particularly important for interconnects inside digital systems, where they can increase the amount and density of information that can be sent between system components and potentially reduce energy by orders of magnitude. They also offer possibilities for specific functional optoelectronic devices.
David Miller’s work on integrating such OEO conversions tightly starts with his work on self-electrooptic-effect devices (SEEDs – see this page for full details), which showed low energy optoelectronic devices and systems in integrated devices. He and his colleagues also examined
integration with silicon, including, integration of optoelectronic devices – especially quantum well modulators – with silicon, and technology for monolithic integration of quantum well modulators with silicon, including successful direct growth of III-V quantum well modulators on silicon substrates, and later work on germanium quantum well modulators on silicon
integrated optoelectronic systems of various kinds
optically controlled optoelectronics (which can also be viewed as an extension of the SEED approach) – e.g. for wavelength conversion
the internal, high-speed process of diffusive conduction in optoelectronic devices for both its physics and possible high-speed applications
and various approaches to wavelength sensitive devices for sensing and communications