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A silicon light emitting device was designed and realized utilizing a standard 2-/spl mu/m industrial CMOS technology design and processing procedure. The device and its associated driving circuitry were integrated in a CMOS integrated circuit and can interface with a multimode optical fiber. The device delivers 8 nW of optical power (450-850 nm wavelength) per 20-/spl mu/m diameter of chip area at 4.0 V and 5 mA. The device emits light by means of a surface assisted Zener breakdown process that occurs laterally between concentrically arranged highly doped n/sup +/ rings and a p/sup +/ centroid, which are all coplanarly arranged with an optically transparent Si-SiO/sub 2/ interface. Theoretical and experimental determinations with capacitances and series resistances indicate that the device has an intrinsic high-frequency operating capability into the near gigahertz range.