Spring 2018 Optical Connections Magazine


vision of silicon photonics then we need to integrate the whole lot and not compromise on manufacturing and performance.” Rockley Photonics now has a well- funded global team of more than 60 people, based in Pasadena CA, but with other members in Oxford, UK, and Helsinki Finland, where the Finnish government has committed to support silicon photonics volume manufacturing. Rockley’s current link with the UK’s Southampton and Sheeld-based Photonics Hub is its silicon photonics research and development support. He said, “We are developing a state- of-the-art, low-loss 3µm silicon photonics-based platform, essentially a polarization-independent waveguide platform, designed for high-density WDM routing. The devices will be monolithically integrated, high-speed low-power modulators with integrated photo-diodes.” Besides the technical specification designed for high density interconnect applications in data centres, the modulators are expected to have high manufacturing tolerances and excellent yields in fabrication.” JV WITH HENGTONG In January 2018, Rockley announced a joint venture with China’s Hengtong Optic-Electric to develop and manufacture optical transceiver modules based on Rockley’s silicon photonics

technology. The JV was established in 2017, based on a $42 million co- investment led by Hengtong Optic- Electric, a leading player in the fiber- optic communication industry, and will for the first time commercialize Rockley’s advanced photonics technology for networking. The partners will manufacture and sell silicon photonics optical modules to meet the burgeoning market for high- speed data communication, including carrier networks, internet data centers, high performance computing, and deep learning applications. The global optical network hardware market is forecast to grow to $24.99 billion by 2021, at a compound growth rate of close to 13%, according to research published by analyst company Technavio. Growing mobile data trac, high demand for data centers and development of 5G networks are just some of the leading drivers of demand for new optical network hardware. The transceivers will be available some time during 2018, with initial plans for three models operating at 100G with dierent distance capabilities. Rickman explained, “They will be made to industry standard specifications but better than the competition basically by being cheaper and with a smaller energy demand.” And the new products will be the first examples of putting his “bigger is better” concept into practice.

hundred times bigger, at the micron level rather than at the finer hundreds of nanometers level. A design will work better for photonics if the structures are about the same size as the optical wavelengths – at around a micron or two for optical communications.” SIZE MATTERS But it’s not just an issue of size: Rickman added, “For photonics devices to work optimally the precision of the parts is critical. It’s the ability to create structures that are the most accurate geometries and purity that you can think of – at the atom level of roughness. It’s these sort of parameters that we can leverage from the semiconductor fabrication industry to achieve the features we need for optical purposes – not as small as you can make it but as accurate as you can make it.” In the current form of silicon photonics, what Rickman sees today is a series of partial structures but these are not solving the problems such as the need for achieving optical polarization and the power deficit problem. “In all cases the developers are solving some problems but not all of them,” Rickman continued. “What we need is to integrate these devices into a single process flow. Essentially, current silicon photonics systems are still inferior to established non-silicon devices If we are going to fulfill the new, revised

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ISSUE 12 | Q1 2018

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