Most of the research on silicon-on-insulator integrated circuits has been focused on applications for telecommunication. By using the large refractive index of silicon, compact complex photonic functions have been integrated on a silicon chip. However, the transparency of silicon up to 8.5 μm enables the use of the platform for the mid infrared wavelength region, albeit limited by the absorption in silicon oxide from 4 μm on. This could lead to a whole new set of integrated photonics circuits for sensing, given the distinct absorption bands of many molecules in this wavelength region. These long wavelength integrated photonic circuits would preferably need broadband or widely tunable sources to probe these absorption bands.
We propose the use of nonlinear optics in silicon wire waveguides to generate light in this wavelength range. Nonlinear interactions in just a few cm of silicon wire waveguides can be very efficient as a result of both the high nonlinear index of silicon and the high optical confinement obtained in these waveguides. We demonstrate the generation of a supercontinuum spanning from 1.53 μm up to 2.55 μm in a 2 cm dispersion engineered silicon nanowire waveguide by pumping the waveguide with strong picoseconds pulses at 2.12 μm . Furthermore we demonstrate broadband nonlinear optical amplification in the mid infrared up to 50 dB  in these silicon waveguides. By using this broadband parametric gain a silicon-based synchronously pumped optical parametric oscillator (OPO) is constructed . This OPO is tunable over 70 nm around a central wavelength of 2080 nm.
Finally, we also demonstrate the use of higher order dispersion terms to get phase matching between optical signals at very different optical frequencies in silicon wire waveguides. In this way we demonstrate conversion of signals at 2.44 μm to the telecommunication band with efficiencies up to +19.5 dB . One particularly attractive application of such wide conversion is the possibility of converting weak signals in the mid-IR to the telecom window after which they can be detected by a high-sensitivity telecom-band optical receiver.