The Institute of Microelectronics (IME), a research institute of the Singapore-based Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), together with Globalfoundries and Alcatel-Lucent, plan to commercialize key innovations in silicon chips designed to support optical communications.
Working with a global semiconductor foundry, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, IME and Alcatel-Lucent plan to bring silicon innovating component designs from research to commercial fabrication readiness within the next few years.
These scalable silicon building blocks will be made accessible to photonics developers to create new products and propagate the benefits of dramatically increased data rate and processing power, at a reduced cost to the industry.
The collaboration leverages Bell Labs' design experience and research capability with the development expertise of IME to create a library of silicon photonics devices with the requisite process control monitors (PCMs) and process design kits (PDKs). These photonic devices, ranging from next-generation high-speed optical modulators, germanium photo-detectors, waveguides and other common photonic circuits found in networking equipment will be offered as a result of this collaboration.
These chips were developed as part of IME's Silicon Photonics research platform. IME's Nano-Photonics Programme focuses on silicon photonics, an area of research which has attracted substantial industry interest. Silicon photonics enables manufacturers to integrate optical functions in silicon wafers, just as electronic devices are today, thus enabling them to take advantage of the infrastructure and R&D know-how of silicon manufacturing accrued over the past 40 years. The result is a 10 to 100 times reduction in cost, surmounting the main obstacle that has hindered the widespread adoption of photonics.
By leveraging the advanced silicon micro- and nano-fabrication technologies in IME, researchers under the programme have made significant progress in developing CMOS platform-based silicon photonic devices with applications in high-speed optical interconnects and light-emitters. Their achievements include having demonstrated low loss light coupling, transmission and wavelength-division-multiplexing as well as fast electro-optical modulation, photo-detection and light emission in silicon - which are the important building blocks towards realising high performance photonic integrated circuits in silicon.