Winter 2018 Optical Connections Magazine


New opportunities in Silicon Photonics PAINTING THE MARKET PIC TURE

The need for high-speed data transmission, increased data traffic in cloud computing and the rapid roll-out of the Internet of Things have created a growing photonic integrated circuit (PIC) industry. Antony Savvas looks at the latest developments in the sector.

T he need for speed has integration technology and fibre- optic communication technology to create photonic integrated circuits. By leveraging that CMOS technology, silicon photonics (otherwise known as SiP) have the potential to be fabricated and manufactured on a much larger scale. Some of the “most disruptive innovations” in silicon photonics, says analyst Frost & Sullivan, are high-speed Ethernet switches, interconnects, photo detectors and transceivers. These enable high- bandwidth communications at a reduced cost through a low form factor, low power generation and improved performance integration in a single device. Wide-scale adoption of photonic integrated circuits is expected in various industries, such as the data centre, cloud computing, biomedical and automotive sectors. Building low-power interconnects that use light to transfer data rapidly is the main application area within data centres. In the biomedical industry, silicon photonics will enable the creation of highly sensitive bio-sensors for diagnostic applications. enabled the convergence of complementary metal- oxide semiconductors (CMOS) technology, three-dimensional (3D)

AMERICAN SUPPORT The North American region has seen significant growth in silicon photonic research and development, partly due to the location of hyperscale data centre facilities that can benefit from SiP. The US government has also been well behind developments in the field. For instance, it set up a PIC manufacturing initiative in the form of the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics). This US$610m venture is a combination of public and private funding, with US$110m chipped in by the US Department of Defence, US$250m from the state of New York and a similar amount from private contributions. The venture has attracted well over 120 partners, including universities and companies. The scheme’s manufacturing innovation institute is based in Rochester, New York in a former Kodak building. A key goal is that the manufacturing institute will continue after the initiative is completed in early 2021. Companies backing the project include indium phosphide specialist Infinera as well as silicon photonics players Acacia Communications and Intel. AIM Photonics has been successful in building a US-wide ecosystem to further its aims. This August, three National Science Foundation (NSF) funded grants

totalling US$1.2m were awarded to enable collaborative photonics-centred R&D with the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), the University of California-San Diego (UCSD) and the University of Delaware (UD). Michael Liehr, CEO of AIM Photonics, said: “We are thrilled to work with leading academic institutions on these three separate NSF-funded projects to collaboratively enable photonics-focused devices and capabilities that can allow for the more efficient identification of materials, as well as enhanced processes for manufacturing complex photonic devices and next-generation computing capabilities.” Filbert Bartoli, director of the Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems in NSF’s Directorate for Engineering, said: “Partnering with AIM Photonics provides NSF-funded researchers unique access to world-class manufacturing facilities and stimulates innovation. It enables faculty to span the spectrum from fundamental research breakthroughs to translational advances in integrated photonics devices and circuits.” For one of the projects, RIT will work with AIM Photonics to use its leading- edge PIC toolset, located at SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany, NY,


| ISSUE 15 | Q4 2018

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