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Using Silicon Photonics Integration to Address Data Centre Demands IntroductionSince the Renaissance, our world has been shaped by technology, and every age has its transformative phenomenon that burns across society reshaping human life and culture: crop rotation fuelling the agricultural revolution, the steam engine freeing up human and animal muscle power, steel allowing railroads and industrialisation which in turn fuelled Europe's dominance of the world, to the transistor and the integrated circuit which has brought us the modern age. Clearly the dominating technology of our day is the internet and the communication infrastructure that has brought the world both together and fractured it at the same time. Google, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon don't just supply information, but are fundamentally changing the way we interact and see each other. Boundaries between countries dissolve, while similar groups of geographically diverse individuals band up in international organisations. Information is key, and mining big data in the massive supercomputers determines elections and corporate valuations. The underlying technology is the massive data centre. Typically 250,000 square feet or more in size, and placed close to sources of cheap power, these immense supercomputers consume about 5% of the world's electricity. Within these giant warehouses, there are 100,000s of servers all connected through switches and fibre-optics. A typical Google search spreads through more than 1000 servers through the fibre-optic backbone, the servers comparing information and prioritising a list based on the searcher's history and assumed intent. At the same time, customized adverts, targeted to the individual is what generates the revenue. The more powerful the data centre and the more it knows about you, the more likely you are to buy the recommended product. Moore's Law has been at work for decades now, improving the microprocessors and the switches that connect them to power the data centre. Optics and lasers, however, do not follow the same scaling laws. What is now the bottleneck is the fibre-optic network that connects the servers together. Information may trickle in and out of the data centre, with the consumer searching a word or a phrase, and targeted information returning, while at the same time a tsunami of data is passing through thousands of servers within the data centre to consolidate and customise the information based on everything everyone knows. The fibre-optic network within the data centre is what's funnelling the inter-server tsunamis. This fundamental issue is that the switching and processing of data follow Moore's Law while the optical connection that transports data does not. This is the major impediment to the further growth of the data centre. (Bechtolsheim, 2012) As a comparison, consider that in the year 2000, a network switch in the data centre cost $4000 and carried eight lanes of traffic at 2.5Gb/s. The cost of the optical transceivers for 2.5Gb/s for short distance interconnect multi-mode was $50 each. So the total cost of the switch to the optics was about 10:1. Fast forward to today, where the switch still costs $4000, but thanks to Moore's law now carries 32 ports of 100Gb/s. The optics required for this high data rate, over the longer distance of single mode fibre, costs about $1000 each. So the numbers become obscenely reversed, where $32,000 of optics is required to connect a $4000 switch. This is clearly an untenable situation. Data centres cannot grow unless the cost of the optics drops dramatically. Current solutions for optics generally use standard approaches using discrete components such as thin film filters and glass lenses, all manually assembled in order to obtain the necessary alignment tolerances required for optics. The market for transceivers used in this space is estimated to be huge at about $1B and growing at between 35%-40% per year (LightCounting, 2016). Clearly a solution that can provide this functionality at a lower cost can be a breakthrough for the industry. Recently there has been tremendous interest in silicon photonics where integrated circuit technology is used to make the optics for the transceivers. This relies on other properties of silicon to generate, modulate, and combine different wavelengths of light. Unfortunately, though silicon is an outstanding material for switching electrical current, it is woefully inadequate for these optical functions. Thus using the integrated circuit infrastructure to make low cost multi-wavelength optical transceivers has been mostly a dream undermined by the physics of the material itself. Though some silicon photonics has been deployed using parallel fibres, the technology has been unable to address the core market that uses multiple wavelengths over the same fibre (Dobbelaere, 2016). For example Intel, which has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on silicon photonics making numerous announcements over the last decade (Christy, 2015) has only recently brought out a product (Takahashi, 2016), and that once again uses the much less desirable multiple fibre format. Technology Background In the data centre, pluggable transceivers are used to convert the electronics signals from the switch or router into optical signals that travel down optical fibres. Generally multiple signals travel down a single fibre to increase the bandwidth using wavelength multiplexing. For example, a 100Gb/s signal travelling down a single fibre is actually composed of four separate 25Gb/s signals, each one coded to a different wavelength of light. Thus to make a multi-wavelength optical transceiver one requires four separate sources at the transmit and four separate detectors at the receive end with wavelength multiplexing and demultiplexing of the signals integrated in the module. Thus for the transmitter one needs multiple laser sources, multiple ways of modulating the light from these lasers, a method of combining the multiple wavelengths of light together, and electronics to drive and control the transmitter. On the receiver side, one requires a method of demultiplexing the multiple wavelengths of light, detecting the light, then amplifying and regenerating clean electronic signals. Unfortunately silicon is not ideal for all these functions. Of course one can do the signal processing, the drivers, the amplifiers and signal regeneration in the silicon using standard components. And these blocks have been improving dramatically according to Moore's law. One can even fabricate relatively good detectors and modulators using germanium containing processes to make detectors and silicon-on-insulator waveguides with pn junctions for modulators. However, the lasers are extremely difficult, as to generate light one needs a direct-gap semiconductor. Similarly dispersive components such as wavelength multiplexers and demultiplexers are challenging as the high temperature dependence of silicon's refractive index makes them unstable, and wavelength control is further compromised by the very high index contrast between silicon and silicon dioxide. The latter results in extremely poor yields. Ideally one should use indium phosphide (InP) for the laser sources and glass waveguides for the latter. InP lasers are robust, efficient and mature, and can be made at very low cost. Similarly, glass waveguides are beautifully transparent and can easily be formed using lithographic processes into stable and high yield mux/demux structures. These planar lightwave circuits (PLCs) with glass waveguides are already used in high density long haul communications to multiplex and demultiplex up to 96 channels. So far practical silicon photonics has been missing the multiplexer/demultiplexer and only a single laser has been used due to the complexity of the packaging. Without the ability to combine and split wavelengths, these silicon photonics transceivers have needed multiple fibres and transmit the four signals with only one channel per fibre (Dobbelaere, 2016). Needing four separate fibres makes the fibre plants in the data centre much more expensive and adds complex array connectors at all the patch panels. The problem becomes more acute as systems in the future require 8 channels to further increase speed. Kaiam InnovationIn order to compensate for the deficiency in silicon to generate and multiplex light we developed a SiP (System-In-Package) structure where glass waveguides together with laser diodes that are MEMS-coupled are simply mounted on a silicon photonics chip. The silicon photonics hybrid chip assembly is a commercial IC meant for multiple-fibre applications. In fact, the silicon photonics chip consists of two chips that are combined using a copper pillar process. The larger chip below contains silicon modulators and detectors while the top chip contains the drivers, amplifiers and signal regenerators (CDRs- clock-data-recovery). The PLC is the glass waveguide chip fabricated by Kaiam which contains the multiplexer and demultiplexer elements. Four lasers, each at a different wavelength are attached to the PLC using Kaiam proprietary MEMS alignment. The light enters and exits the assembly through single mode fibres epoxied to the glass PLC. Finally the optical path between the PLC and the commercial silicon photonics chip is obtained by angle polishing the waveguide chip that deflects the optical beam down to a set of grating couplers integrated on the silicon photonics chip. SiP consisting of a commercial silicon photonics chip with the Kaiam glass waveguide PLC and lasers. Compensating for silicon's deficiencies, this is the first multi-wavelength silicon photonics transceiver. There are in fact two microcontrollers in the complete transceiver. The silicon photonics IC contains a controller that adjusts the bias and voltage on the modulators, monitors the regenerator thresholds and compensation and controls the various internal settings of the transceiver. In addition, the module electronics contains four laser drivers and associated control loops, all programmed by a second microcontroller on the board. The software has to compensate and adjust for temperature, input power levels, and other variables and set and adjust various status and error flags that are communicated using an I2C interface. To calibrate the modules, custom testers have been built that monitor the bit-error-rate on the receiver and the transmit eye under various conditions. The calibration data is stored in the non-volatile memory. The figure shows the transmit eyes at 700C, showing clear open eyes at 25Gb/s. These fully functional transceivers are now being sampled and qualified by major tier 1 data centre companies. We believe this architecture more than halves the cost of the transceiver and is far easier to fabricate than alternative architectures. This is clearly a very exciting time for the company as we prepare to ramp this new System-in-Package transceiver architecture. SummaryOur society is shaped today by data centre architectures that control the flow of information. The bottleneck in data centres is not so much the servers and the switches, but the communication network that connects them together in order to allow massive parallel processes. The issue is that fibre optic transceivers do not obey Moore's law and have not scaled as fast as the electronics. Kaiam is addressing this bottleneck by complementing the silicon with glass waveguides and InP lasers. This allows silicon photonics to address the demanding data centre applications. This packaging platform was used to build complete transceivers that are being scaled today. Works CitedBechtolsheim, A. (2012). Moore's Law and Networking. NANOG55, North American Network Operators Group. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: nanog.org.Christy, P. (2015, 2 17). Retrieved from 451 research: 451research.comDobbelaere, P. D. (2016). Deployment of siliucon photonics technology in data communication applications. International Conference on Optical MEMS and Nanophotonics (OMN). Singapore.LLC, L. (2016). High-Speed Data Center Optical Interconnects. Eugene, OR: lightcounting.org.Takahashi, D. (2016, 8 17). Intel debuts silicon photonics module for lightning-fast connectivity in data centers. Retrieved from Venture Beat: venturebeat.com
LiGenTec is offering a newly developed process as Multi Project Wafer Runs as well as dedicated wafer runs to fabricate thick film silicon nitride photonic integrated circuits. LPCVD silicon nitride is known as a very tensile material that easily forms cracks for heights exceeding 400nm. LiGenTec is surpassing this limitation and offers heights exceeding 400nm up to thicknesses over 1000nm. This is possible with a new proprietary process allowing also very low loss waveguide production. Whereas tall waveguide structures are needed for nonlinear optics or quantum optics to tailor the waveguide to an anomalous dispersion waveguide, the advantage of low loss waveguide technology is beneficial for all kinds of applications where power consumption and form factor plays a role. Due to the excellent confinement in the tall waveguide structure, bending radius losses are minimised and the photonic circuit needs less space on the chip, which offers an cost advantage for wafer scale production. The customer can select tested designs such as splitters, resonators, incoupling tapers, Mach Zehnder interferometer or choose to design his own waveguide structures.
Lumentum is a market-leading manufacturer of innovative photonic products enabling optical networking and laser customers. In March 2016, Lumentum unveiled a new optical whitebox platform supporting an ecosystem enabling SDN within data center and metro/edge DWDM transport. The initial products include a family of configurable rack-mountable optical whiteboxes: terminal amplifier, line amplifier, mux/demux, and ROADM. In August 2016, Infinera and Lumentum announced that they had been successfully testing the compatibility of Lumentums whitebox platform with the PIC based products of Infinera. The tests included the successful transmission of PIC-based superchannels and multiple modulation formats.
Oclaro is one of the largest providers of lasers and optical components, modules and subsystems for the optical communications, industrial, and consumer laser markets. Oclaro has pushed Photonic Integration technologies as key enablers for many components and modules. As an example, Oclaros integrated modulator chip for the coherent CFP2 includes four parallel Mach-Zehnder modulators, various splitters and recombiners, amplifiers (SOAs), a full suite of inline and dump port detectors for set up and control, and spot size converters on all optical ports to facilitate packaging.
Fast Multichannel Photonics Alignment Engine for Silicon Photonics Probing, Test Packaging PI's FMPA (Fast Multichannel Photonics Alignment) Engine is an advanced alignment system for testing and packaging Silicon Photonics (SiP) devices. It is based on a highly specialized digital motion controller integrating novel, inherently parallel alignment and tracking functionalities and hybrid precision scanning and tracking mechanisms combining the advantages of high-speed, closed-loop piezoelectric nanopositioners and servo-motor stages and hexapods. The Silicon Photonics Production Economics Challenge: The convergence of silicon based electronics and photonics promises a leap in data throughput, parallelism, and energy efficiency. Design and materials challenges have by now been addressed. Practicalities of testing and packaging have not. In particular, test and packaging of silicon photonics elements requires nanoscale alignments that cannot be performed using visual or mechanical references. Instead, these optimizations must maximize each coupling's optical throughput directly. But SiP components often incorporate parallel optical paths with multiple, interacting inputs and outputs, all needing optimization for test and packaging. Simple economics, as well as optical realities, dictate that these be optimized simultaneously, yet until now there has been no technology capable of doing this. Instead, time-consuming loops of sequential optimizations have been required. Fast, one-step global optimization of all interconnects is a necessary enabler for SiP economics, and now it's here in industrialized, fab-qualified form. Now, A Solution With more than three decades of experience in ultra-precision motion control for semiconductor manufacturing and metrology, PI has addressed the need for fast, parallel, nanoscale-accurate, multi-degree-of-freedom global optical alignment optimization required in key SiP production steps from planar test to packaging. This enabling solution integrates PI's high-throughput piezo nanopositioning technologies and ultraprecision motion control with novel, firmware-based scanning and parallel alignment algorithms. Multiple inputs and outputs can be aligned simultaneously in one quick step with one simple command. This groundbreaking technology was developed by PI's team that comprises more than a man-century of photonics alignment automation experience and includes foundational participants in the field. The system is part of PI's broad offering of photonics alignment engines ranging from software-driven stage solutions to integrated 6-axis hexapod micro-robots with built-in alignment functionality. Results Alignment times are reduced by up to two to three orders of magnitude by replacing the formerly-required sequential iterations with one-step parallel optimizations in multiple degrees of freedom. This poses significant economic benefits for manufacturers and end-customers alike. Alignments are highly repeatable and tracking across the multiple couplings is real-time. Standard Custom PI has more than four decades of experience providing in-house engineered precision motion control solutions, and can quickly modify existing product designs or provide a fully customized OEM part to fit the exact requirements of the customer's application.What are the unique features of this product as it compares to competing solutions?One-step, fast, global alignment and tracking of multiple inputs and outputs of SiP devices, even if they interact or depend on each other-- a truly groundbreaking capability. Integrated, firmware-based scan/align/tracking capability with unprecedented speed (typically 300-400msec), ability to globally optimize multiple inputs and outputs to waveguide devices in one step even if they interact, and ability to align devices no other technology can, such as top-hat couplings seen in detector coupling and differential mode delay testing. Built-in data recorder and multi-channel analog metrology. Industrialized, all-digital, closed-loop design that is nanoscale-stable even when not tracking and supports exclusion zones to protect costly devices and wafers. Fab-class, not lab-class! Broad, deep, multi-platform software libraries for rapid time-to-market, plus example software including a full-featured, scriptable, remotely-accessible open-source GUI. Fast, fab-automation-network-compatible interfaces supporting multiple simultaneous connections. Flexible, modular design for integration into wafer probing, device test and packaging applications and tools. Thriving ecosystem of OEM capital equipment manufacturers offering turn-key solutions ranging from wafer probing to device packaging, or direct deployment by in-house integrators and researchers. Global applications support and service.
Luxtera has been established to design and manufacture silicon photonics ICs, and especially for the HPC (high performance computing) and datacommunications markets. Luxtera have had the PSM4 transciever module in production for a number of years now, and have been clear leaders in the field.
ficonTEC is a premier supplier of semi- and fully-automated optical device assembly and testing systems for the optical industry, including HPLD manufacturing, fiber-optics and opto-electronics, medical technology, security and military applications, RD, telecommunications, and others. In PIC, ficonTEC has revolutionized the automation of packaging with the FL300fiber optic AutoAlign system. ficonTEC's automation solutions are based on its expertise in process technology and systems engineering where each solution is appropriately customized from a proven line of system platforms. Hence, they serve they serve the PIC market with standard and individual machines by a dedicated and extremely experienced team.
SMART Photonics, is a Pure Play Foundry offering production services for Indium Phosphide (InP) based photonic components. They offer the complete creation process from first Epitaxial growth, high resolution lithography, re-growth, wafer processing, metallization, polishing of wafers up to the coating of the chip facets. SMART Photonics has further developed its generic integration technology for integration of InP basedphotonic components. For this new technology, free access to the SMART Photonics design manual is offered to customers to design their own PICs. Designs can be easily, and cost effectively, tested in the SMART Photonics MPW-runs.
LioniX International has been established in April 2016, and has acquired LioniX, Satrax, XiO Photonics and OctroliX B.V. The focus of LioniX International is on PIC enabled modules based on its proprietary waveguide technology (TriPleX), in addition to microfluidics, optofluidics and MEMS. The acquisition of the aforementioned companies creates a vertical integrated company that delivers a complete solutions: from initial design through volume manufacturing of products. In addition, LioniX International has entered into strategic collaborations with partners in South Korea, to provide high-volume manufacturing of chips and assemblies, thereby enabling a seamless transition from prototype to high-volume manufacturing.
Cisco is a tour de force in optical networking and began to vertically integrate its technologies early this decade. Cisco have been focusing on using CPAK module design, that has now evolved to the QSFP28 transceiver. Cisco acquired Lightwire for their silicon modulator and photonics platform earlier this decade.
Silicon has proved itself to be the most attractive substrate for next-gen large-scale, cost effective photonic integration. A novel heterogeneous IIIV-on-silicon PIC platform was developed in my group 12 years ago to address the need for silicon-based high-performance active devices, e.g., lasers. As one of the early core members in this effort, Dr. Liang developed a highly efficient, wafer-scale independent direct wafer bonding process to enable 10,000X bonding defect reduction, 100X fabrication time reduction, and record-large 125 mm InP-to-Si epitaxial transfer plus multiple benefits in design flexibility and process reliability. This breakthrough serves as the stepping stone to tremendously improve the heterogeneous material integration quality and mass production efficiency, which leads to the quick industrial adoption. Upon collaborating and then joining HP Labs 7 years ago, Dr. Liang filled up the RD vacancy in integrated light sources for HP's datacenter and high-performance computing business. He alone and later his team continued exploring the novelty and potential in this heterogeneous platform. The demonstration of silicon-on-diamond substrate and metal thermal shunt fundamentally solves intrinsic thermal barrier issue in the silicon-on-insulator (SOI) substrate, and provides efficient thermal management to achieve record-high 105 degC continuous-wave lasing in compact mirroring lasers. Two more recent major progresses are inventing a heterogeneous metal-oxide- semiconductor (MOS) photonic platform and developing quantum-dot (QD)-based devices in this platform. By sandwiching a layer of high-quality dielectric at the IIIV-to-silicon bonding interference, a MOS capacitor structure is conveniently formed to introduce the plasma dispersion effect as a new control freedom to heterogeneous devices. A novel three-terminal semiconductor laser structure with integrated MOS capacitor was just published in a Nature Photonics paper. An unprecedented power reduction in laser or passive microring resonator's wavelength tuning by a factor of 10,000,000-1,000,000,000 was achieved. It essentially eliminates the power hungry process to tune or lock laser wavelength in an integrated photonic interconnect system. It also offers an ultimate solution to correct long-term chirp problem in diode lasers, and embraces great potential to allow high-speed direct modulation by simply charging/discharging the MOS capacitor only, and enable other novel devices/applications. This work represents the 1st time to experimentally utilize silicon's electrical property, in addition to its optical and mechanical ones, in this heterogeneous platform. Dr. Liang and his colleagues are also leading the effort to build QD-based hybrid lasers on silicon. As ambient temperature can fluctuate from 30 to 85 degC in datacom environment, QD gain region delivers superior high-temperature performance and has larger optical bandwidth for multi-wavelength light source applications. His team successfully transferred the QD epitaxial material on silicon and built mode-lock comb lasers with efficient optical coupling to silicon photonics for the 1st time. Devices show robust operation to 100 degC easily, and multiple clean lasing streams result in decent external modulation. Clearly this work makes a strong statement to prove that advanced QD materials are the best laser gain material for silicon-based light sources. In the past 10 years, I have had opportunity to work with Dr. Liang and witness him solve numerous problems in heterogeneous integration. His creative thinking and technical leadership are well documented in over 46 patents and 136 top-tier publications. Therefore I firmly believe that his work fully exhibits the essence of this PIC Award, and support this nomination with my strongest endorsement.
Integrated optical technology for visible wavelengths will open a new spectrum of possibilities. On the beam output of future PIC-based light sources, it will be possible to control mode size, the number of output spots and even to generate complex illumination patterns generated by interferometry. Integration of additional optical functions such as variable optical attenuation, optical modulation, fast shutters and fiber switching adds value to the PIC by offering a low-cost and more compact way to realize these often required functionalities. The innovative combination with a PIC will allow for a significantly more robust design, which in turn enables faster and more sensitive analysis. TOPTICA is demonstrating the integration of PICs in present laser architectures that overcomes the need of fiber input delivery. Multiple wavelengths (405 nm, 488 nm, 561 nm, 640 nm) are coupled free-space into the chip, leveraging its beam steering COOL-technology for automatic realignment. This approach has two major benefits, as higher coupling efficiencies can be reached while saving costs on the fibers and its expensive alignment process. Once in the waveguide, the light can be redirected and shaped to a desired output pattern and pitch, reducing the need of discrete optical components. Other functionalities like fiber switching can also be integrated into a PIC, making the use of a Galvo Mirror or a MEMS device to steer the beam between two fibers obsolete. (This work was supported by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement no. 688519 (PIX4life))
IBM is a globally integrated technology. With operations in more than 170 countries, IBM attracts and retains some of the world's most talented people to help solve problems and provide an edge for businesses, governments and non-profits. Innovation is at the core of IBM's strategy. In 2015, for the first time, IBM designed and tested a fully integrated, a 4 wavelength-multiplexed silicon photonics chip capable of optically transmitting and receiving information at data rates up to 25 Gb/s per channel. The result is the possibility to provide 100 Gb/s aggregate bandwidth.
Acacia is a new company that recently went public on its platform of silicon ASICs and silicon photonics. Their key products include CPF2 coherent based transceivers for the telecommunications market. Inside these modules Acacia have developed proprietary advanced ASICs and silicon photonics chip sets that include photonic integration.
Skorpios is a new company that is developing innovative approaches to mount III-V technology (lasers) into a silicon platform for a silicon photonics solution to transceiver module design.
Infinera have been developing very high speed PIC technologies in InP to drive large aggregation of data through a single InP PIC chip. Current demonstrations exceed over 1Tbps with 1000s of photonics devices integrated onto a single chip.
Mellanoxhave been developing very high speed PIC technologies in silicon photonics to drive large aggregation of data through a single SiP PIC chip. Mellanox acquired Kotura a number of years ago and have supported their desire to advance SiP through high speed designs for datacentre applications.
Colorchip has been dedicated to the Research and Development of advanced Application Specific Photonic Integrated Circuits (ASPICs). A team of university professors and industry veterans have collaborated for over a decade to optimize Planar-Lightwave-Circuit (PLC) technology towards the realization of high performance PLCs. Planar-Lightwave-Circuits are at the heart of ColorChips SystemOnGlass Photonic Integration technology using the glass as a platform to combine both passive and active components. SystemOnGlass integration is at the core of their single mode fiber transceiver portfolio.
EFFECT Photonics develops highly integrated optical communications products based on its DWDM optical System-on-Chip technology. The key enabling technology for cost effective DWDM systems is full monolithic integration of all photonic components within a single chip, also known as Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs). This technology combined with EFFECT Photonics' low cost packaging capability, addresses the soaring demand for low cost DWDM solutions in high bandwidth connections between Datacenters (Inter-Datacenter), mobile cell towers for Fronthaul, Backhaul, and Passive Optical Networking (PON) applications such as NGPON2.
IHP performs RD in the fields of silicon-based systems, highest-frequency integrated circuits, and technologies for wireless and broadband communication. The focus of research at the institute is oriented towards issues relevant for business, resulting in applications for telecommunications, semiconductor and automotive industries, aerospace, telemedicine, and automation technologies. The institute has developed into a competence center for silicon-germanium technologies. In recent years, IHP is dedicating considerable efforts to photonic frontend integration with its high-performance BiCMOS technology. The objective is to provide high-performing BiCMOS electronics co-integrated with photonics building blocks such as SOI-waveguides, Germanium photo-detectors, and modulators to academic and industrial users.
Sicoya a spin off from TU Berlin, is developing silicon photonics based PICs for optical data center interconnects using a fabless business model. Sicoya aims to enter the market with a 4x25 Gbit/s sealed and packaged transceiver chip for intra data center connections with link distances up to 2 km. Sicoya designs, packages and sells silicon photonic based Application Specific Photonic Integrated Circuits (ASPICs). Sicoyas technology enables the production of highly integrated optical transceivers at very low manufacturing costs. Extremely small integrated form factors lead to practical and cost efficient scaling roadmaps for Terabit per second data rates.
Yelo has made advancements in Photonics test and measurement by allowing device makes to gain a greater insight to their chip-level performance. The biggest advancement in the last year from Yelo has been the introduction of the touchscreen LIV test Instrument which allows testing of PIC's in seconds to measure device operating characteristics (light-current-voltage). This development goes hand in hand with Yelo's burn in process which runs PIC's under an extended period of operation under stressed conditions to analyse chip performance and once this is completed the post LIV test will display if there has been any chance in threshold. This helps device makers get an insight into chip level performance and understand which devices have been deemed a failure. The LIV test instrument is just one example of how Yelo are continually helping device makers get the valuable test data they need to prevent device failures reaching the field and how we are researching and developing faster and easier ways to speed up the testing process so that device makers can speed up their production line and get first mover advantage in the market. Unfortunately we cant reveal any customer quotes about us as we are under NDA but we can provide some quotes from leading figures from Invest Northern Ireland. Jeremy Fitch, Invest NI's executive director of business and sector development, said: "Yelo has established an impressive track record in international markets as a leader in the development of Photonics testing and measurement equipment. As a result of its focus on innovation for global markets, Yelo now exports over 80 per cent of its equipment to high-end customers in strategically important industries. Its investment, including expenditure on RD, will help to further enhance its position as an innovator particularly in Photonics". Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI Trade Director - Yelo is competing successfully and has firmly established itself as an industry leader in sophisticated testing equipment in a fast moving and demanding sector. Major businesses in technology now depend on Yelo to enable them to provide sophisticated products to their global customer base.
The nomination deals with the invention of novel and groundbreaking remote sensing technology that is using a laser and a camera. It is integrated into a single portable module and it is capable of sensing nano-vibrations of all the surfaces being illuminated by the laser and imaged by the camera. The camera has special optics that causes the back scattered patterns (secondary speckle patterns) to change in space and in time following very specific set of rules that are being highly correlated to the 6 possible degrees of freedom of movement of the inspected surface/PIC. The speckle patterns are being analyzed and following that, changes in the nano-vibration profile of the inspected surface within the field of regard of the laser and the camera is being extracted. This profile is obtained with nano-metric precision which is almost not distance dependent. The proposed sensor is highly suitable to perform simultaneous and continues remote monitoring of PIC (photonic integrated circuitry) devices' characterization in sense that spatially localized optical mal-functionality generates mechanical and thermal discontinuities that are translated into a change in the nano-vibration profile of that spatial position on the inspected and vibrated PIC devices. Since the vibrations measurement has nano-metric precision it can indeed be used to remotely identify such mal-functionalities. The proposed technology answers the award criteria definition from both of its sides. On one hand the sensor itself is a photonic integrated sensor. On the other hand the functionality of the sensor is highly suitable for the prize category being industrial mass production PIC devices' characterization. The proposed technology has been commercialized from Bar Ilan University to a startup company called ContinUse in which Lenovo, Tyco and other large commercial entities have invested significant funds. It is a patented technology having around 20 patents with 3 out of them being already granted and some others on the way of being granted. One of the inventors of this technology, Prof. Zeev Zalevsky (from the faculty of engineering at Bar Ilan University) has received many national and international prizes for his engineering ingenuity for this invention as well as for many other previous inventions that have passed the same path of being invented at his lab at the University, patented, commercialized to a startup company and eventually sold as products in the market. For instance, Prof. Zalevsky was one of the inventors of the 3D optical sensing technology of the Kinect module in the gaming Xbox device (developed by PrimeSense and sold to Apple later on) and received for his invention the Image Engineering Innovation Award of the International Society for Imaging Science and Technology (IST) as well as the Serial Innovator Award given by the International Wearable Technologies (WT) Innovation World Cup of 2015. The invention for which this nomination is made has been published in tens of peer review papers appearing in the top international journals in the field of optics. In addition to this, the research and entrepreneurship activity of Prof. Zalevsky also granted him the Krill prize, the international commission in optics (ICO) prize, the young nanotechnology investigator prize, the Juludan prize, the Tabenblaut prize, the NANOSMAT prize in nanotechnology, the German SAOT prize, etc. Following his scientific achievements Prof. Zalevsky was also awarded with the fellow status in all the large optical technical associations such as OSA, SPIE, EOS, IET, IOP and more.
Oclaro is one of the largest providers of lasers and optical components, modules and subsystems for the optical communications, industrial, and consumer laser markets. Oclaro has enabled an almost complete on wafer test (OWT) of InP PICs. They can automatically identify known good die for assembly and map all key parameters at wafer level to maintain process control and integrity. Adding the OWT capability to Oclaros InP platform is a huge step towards the reduction of manufacturing costs for InP based PICs.
VLC Photonics is a world leading photonic design house, offering several solutions in the field of integrated optics: techno-economical feasibility studies and consultancy, in-house PIC design, characterization and test, and full PIC prototyping through external manufacturing and packaging/assembly partners. VLC Photonics, as a pure-play fabless design house, works with multiple foundries embracing the generic integration model, and makes use of these fabrication platforms to always chose the most suited substrate material (Silicon-on-insulator, Silica/PLC, SiN/TripleX, InP/GaAs) for the application at hand. VLC Photonics also works closely with foundries to contribute in the building of their Process Design Kits (PDKs), allowing external users to easily access their manufacturing capabilities.
BRIGHT Photonics is a design house for PICs. They typically operate as an intermediate company between foundry services and product developers. In addition to full design services, they can support you with advanced photonics libraries in technologies such as InP, SoI, Triplex, glass and polymers. BRIGHT offers Feasibility, Packaged prototypes, Design layout (libraries and support), and Product-development support and simulations; for a wide range of applications such as Interferometric devices, Transmitters Receivers, Structural Medical Sensing, Datacom Telecom.
Luceda Photonics wants photonic IC engineers to enjoy the same first-time-right design experience as electronic IC designers. Luceda Photonics produces IPKISS, a complete design framework for photonic integrated circuits that takes you through component design and simulation, circuit definition and layout, all the way to tape-out and testing. It includes a state of the art component library with specialized components, adaptable to all technologies and builds on years of design experience. The company started as spin-off from imec, the photonics group of the UGent and the VUB.
Pioneering photonics design automation already since 1991, today PhoeniX Software has a global presence and is a trusted and well recognized partner for a large number of organizations. We enable easy and cost-effective realization of integrated photonics chips and systems, by means of our internally developed superior products and services. Our customers range from large OEM's to start-ups and include some of the worlds top universities and research institutes.As the leader in Photonic IC design solutions, we will continue to develop the market by anticipating market demand and customer needs. In combination with our strategic partnerships, this results in offering world class design flows and access to all relevant fabrication technologies for our customers.
Kaiamis introducing its hybrid integration technology of mems and PLC. The core technology is smart photonic integration, where standard and mature manufacturing tools can be used to assemble optical integrated circuits with consistent performance, scalability, and cost. The company uses silicon micromechanical techniques to solve the challenging step of optical component alignment and attachment. Kaiam has developed high-bandwidth transceivers to provide single-mode solutions to the data center.
Meint K. Smit invented the Arrayed Waveguide Grating, for which he received a LEOS Technical Achievement award in 1997. In 2000 he became leader of the Photonic Integration group at the COBRA Research Institute of Eindhoven University of Technology. His current research interests are in InP-based Photonic Integration, including integration of InP circuitry on Silicon. "Weve analysed the success of microelectronics. Now were putting those lessons learned to work for integrated photonics" says Professor Meint Smit, Eindhoven University of Technology. The development of silicon based microelectronics means today it costs only a few cents to design and develop per square millimetre of chip, as the technology is mature and highly standardized. In addition, its development costs are low because we have sophisticated software for the fast and accurate design of the chips. Teams at Eindhoven University of Technology, led by Professor Meint Smit, want the same for photonic devices. And now that tipping point has been reached. "Around the start of this new century, we were all asking ourselves: when is photonics integration really going to take off in the same way as silicon micro-electronics?" explains Smit. "After all, in 1980 I had started saying it would kick start in the 1990. Ten years later, the tipping point had moved to the start of the new millennium. By that time, some critics started to say that the promise of photonics integration would always remain in the future." Understanding the success of microelectronics"In Eindhoven, we looked at the world of microelectronics and discovered that things were arranged in a very different way. Up until the 1980s you had a lot of different technologies being used. There were a whole range of transistor types and countless variations between them. But in the 1980s things started converging and you started to see the development of generic processes." "Designs start to use the same basic building blocks of transistors, resistors and capacitors. Even some of todays most complicated processors, with over 1 billion transistors, have less than 10 different components. So you are using the same set of building blocks to create all kinds of things." "We asked ourselves, how can this be applied to photonics? If you look to light, it has an amplitude, a phase and a polarisation. So if you make a component for manipulating phase, another for changing polarisation, and one for altering phase, you could achieve a lot of things. Then you simply need a waveguide to connect them." "So we started developing a process with an optical amplifier for the amplitude, a phase modulator to change the phase, and a polarization converter." "There is a big advantage if everyone uses the same generic process. You can combine a lot of different designs on one chip. In a recent successful test case, we had 20 different designs on one wafer." Theres always more than one run"The challenge in this business of integrated photonics has been the cost of making a chip prototype. If you develop a chip it always takes 2-3 runs before you get it right, because the chip never performs exactly as you expect." "Traditionally, one process run currently costs at least 200,000, if you do it on your own. So this is a huge barrier for small companies. But if 20 users can share the same wafer, then the costs drop to 10,000 each and thats within the scope of many startups. You get 8 identical cells back from the foundry which you can test and measure. You can then iterate the design, so that the next run gives even better results." Open Collaboration is key to maintaining Europes LeadEindhoven Technical University (TU/e) also drives and actively contributes to the International JePPix platform. This is an open collaboration between over 240 members, designed to connect researchers, PIC designers, and generic foundries to dramatically cut costs and speed up the time to market. TU/e have also set up Smart Photonics, the only foundry in the world dedicated to the production of low volume Indium Phosphide chips. "The role of Jeppix is to act as an independent broker between designers and foundrys. We announce a production schedule, collect the designs and produce one big mask. That goes to the foundry that produces the wafers, cuts them up and sends the result back to the various designers. So this is the way TU/e has introduced generic photonics manufacture into Europe." The race is on"Clearly, others have recognised were on to something. In October 2014, US President Obama reserved US$ 220 million to set up something similar in the United States. Several leading universities and technology companies there are bidding in the tender to create the "Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation". Everyone in the industry is waiting to see which city gets to host the institute, because it will mean the creation of many local jobs in the USA for whoever wins." "It turns out that the generic integration process is quite complex, so being able to master this gives us a head start. But weve reached a very important tipping point. And when we look at the world of semiconductors, no-one thought such generic processes could ever drive very fast 60 GHz radio frequency circuits. Personally, I think if you are willing to invest enough money in a single technology, then it will surpass the rest." Indium Phosphide Wins on Price"Now, lets suppose your chip works and youre happy with its performance. Then scaling up to produce 100,000 pieces is no problem. You can order them immediately knowing that the specs will remain constant. This part can be done using a more traditional process. A large Photonics foundry like Oclaro can manufacture 10,000 wafers a year." "The other point is the chip cost. We are actually cheaper. Of course, silicon photonics can make their chips cheaper if you buy a million, but few small companies want a million. They want to start with a few hundred or a few thousand. And if you want a few hundred from a silicon foundry then the entry/set-up costs are very much higher than in photonics. So if you look at the functionality per Euro, Indium Phosphide wins and we are very competitive in the lower volumes." "The next step, and we have the first products lined up for that, is to do the whole thing again but then not on a substrate of Indium Phosphide, but on Silicon. But then we will add a very thin layer of Indium Phosphide." Riding the Seven League boots of Silicon"The holy grail of this industry is to put lasers onto a piece of Silicon. Silicon itself is not suitable for this you cant generate light directly, whereas with Indium you can generate light directly on the substrate. Weve validated methods to build a photonic component on an Indium Phosphide layer and then connect it to a Silicon layer underneath. We are in the process of launching the first working devices." "We think that Indium Phosphide will champion by using the "seven league boots of silicon" and we believe our generic approach will scale faster."
End of the 1980's Arjen Bakker graduated in Electrical Engineering at the University of Twente in the Netherlands in the area of design and realization of a high-efficiency fiber chip coupling. As co-founder of BBV, a design services and software provider for "lightwave devices", today known as Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs). He started his working career as the chief architect of the software in 1991 and in this role, Arjen translated the requirements needed by the design group into software solutions that have been commercialized successfully and of which Prometheus, Selene and OlympIOs are the most well-known. In 1992 he introduced the concept of parametric design, which nowadays is the standard design approach in integrated photonics mask layout and modelling. End of the nineties, just before the dot.com bubble, BBV was serving customers around the world and counted a staff of around 20 people. After selling and successfully integrating BBV into Kymata Netherlands (later Alcatel Optronics Netherlands) in the period of 2000 till 2002, Arjen co-founded PhoeniX Software in 2003, where he ever since occupies the post of the CTO by being in charge of the technology roadmaps, research projects and the overall architecture of the software products. In this role, Arjen has been instrumental in promoting collaboration and standardization activities in Europe and beyond, to fuel the growth of the whole integrated photonics eco-system. Arjen introduced Process Design Kits to support cost-effective access to integrated photonics manufacturing through Multi Project Wafer runs and supporting the transition from a small and vertically integrated industry to today's dominant fabless working model for both RD as well as commercial (volume) manufacturing. Further, he co-founded and is board member of the PDAFlow Foundation with all major photonics software vendors working together on standardization for tool interoperability and PDK definition. Arjen is actively promoting and working on creating integrated design flows based on standardized interfaces to enable designers to make more complex PIC designs, in shorter times, with a higher first-time-right rate. Today, PhoeniX Software is serving customers in more than 30 countries worldwide, rapidly growing, with a staff of 31. Without Arjen Bakker as driving force for software and technology development with his collaborative spirit, working together with other software vendors, technology providers, design houses and universities, to lower access barriers to enable a wide variety of worldwide organizations to make use of PIC technology, this industry would not have been as mature as it is today.
Rene and Hans, founding fathers of LioniX B.V., have a 16 year track record as a team with complementary capabilities. They initiated and generated a sustainable, growing, photonics business, are continuously initiating and driving public-private collaborations, shaping the PIC landscape beyond Europe. As a team they effuse harmonizing business sense and technology excellence. Their innovative technology developments in silicon nitride resulted in a recognized mature waveguide platform TriPleX. With a recent investment of YMK Photonics, a Korean strategic partner, this has resulted in the formation of LioniX International B.V.; a vertically integrated company that develops novel Photonic Integrated Circuits-based modules that serve solutions in telecom/datacom and life science applications. Dr. Hans van den Vlekkert and Dr. Rene Heideman are founders LioniX B.V. in 2001. Since then, they have organically grown the business of integrated photonics and micro system technology (MST/MEMS) through spin-out of several new companies. Recently the activities of 3 spin-out companies have merged under LioniX International B.V. Hans is member of the board of IVAM and industrial coordinator of the HTSM Photonics roadmap. Rene is member of Dutch steering committees (IOP Photonic Devices, STW Generic Technologies for Integrated Photonics), board member of MinacNed (Micro-and Nano Technology Cluster the Netherlands) and on the Board of Stakeholders of Photonics 21. Hans van den Vlekkert has been active in the MST for over 30 years. He has carried out research, as well as development work resulting in many products available on the market such as pH-ISFET systems and accelerometers. During his career he has been responsible for marketing and sales (CSEM and TMP) as well as for production of Microsystems (Sentron, CSEM and TMP as head of silicon foundries and subcontracting higher volumes to other foundries and assembly companies. He has also been responsible for the Mesa+ Nanolab. He was active in European programs as project leader for large projects such as Europractice and was also member of the board of Nexus and Eurimus. At present, amongst others, he is member of the board of IVAM and Project Coordinator of the large Memphis project ( 30 MEuro's research program on photonics in the Netherlands). He has written over 50 papers and holds several patents in various fields. Rene Heideman obtained his MsC and his PhD degree in Applied Physics at the University of Twente. After his post-doc positions he applied his extensive know-how in the industry. Since 2001 he is co-founder and CTO of LioniX BV. He is an expert in the field of MST, based on more than 25 years of experience. He specializes in Integrated Optics, covering both (bio-)chemical sensing and telecom applications. He is (co)author of more than 200 papers and holds more than 20 patents in the integrated optics field, on 10 different subjects. He participates in several Dutch steering committees (IOP Photonic Devices, STW Generic Technologies for Integrated Photonics), is board member of MinacNed (Micro-and Nano Technology Cluster the Netherlands)) and is member of the Board of Stakeholders (BOS) of Photonics 21.
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