UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering


Siming Chen becomes Senior Member with IEEE

4 May 2020

We sat down to talk to Siming Chen, Royal Academy of Engineering Fellow and Lecturer in the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department about his latest accomplishment.

Siming Chen

Siming, your membership with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has been elevated to Senior Member. We understand that this is an honour bestowed only to those who have made significant contributions to the profession. Congratulations!

Earlier this year we also reported about your £267,000 award to create the world’s first semiconductor optical amplifier on silicon.

It seems that your work is truly revolutionary, help us understand what it means more widely.

For those outside of the industry, what is a semiconductor optical amplifier on silicon?

A semiconductor optical amplifier (SOA) on silicon is a novel semiconductor device created by integrating a traditional Group III-V semiconductor optical amplifier on a Group IV silicon platform.

Which industries will this help and how?

It is expected that this research will generate significant impact in a wide range of industry areas such as Data-/Telecommunications, optical switching, 5 G, internet of things and high-performance computing.

Who are you working with on this project? 

As part of this project I am working closely with leading UK and international Silicon Photonics companies and institutes including Rockley Photonics (Ireland), CEA-LETI (France), CSC (UK), EPSRC Future Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing Hub (UK) and University of Glasgow (UK). The commitment and partnership of these collaborators is collectively contributing in excess of £140k to this project.

This work seems very physics related, what is the importance of physicists working on Electrical Engineering work like this?

Yes, are you quite right!

I'll admit that I don't use most of physics on a day to day basis as an electrical engineer, but a good understanding of physics is part of a great foundation for electrical engineer to not only know that a phenomenon has occurred but also to discover why and how it happened. To be honest, I always believed that if I had a better handle on physics than I do, I'd be a better electrical engineer. I would also want to point out that it's best to keep an open mind because you can find yourself in a field where a good understanding of multidiscipline concepts goes a long way.