A*STAR, Alcatel-Lucent prepare silicon photonics device library

The Institute of Microelectronics (IME), part of Singapore’s Agency for Science Technology and Research (A*STAR), has big plans to commercialize silicon photonics.

The Institute of Microelectronics (IME), part of Singapore’s Agency for Science Technology and Research (A*STAR), has big plans to commercialize silicon photonics.

To make the plan a reality, IME has partnered with semiconductor foundry GlobalFoundries Inc. and equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent. The trio say they will bring innovative silicon component designs from research stage to commercial fabrication readiness within the next few years.

The new service will allow photonics developers to create new optical products out of silicon. They will be offered a library of building blocks consisting of silicon photonics device designs 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 – have been developed as part of IME’s silicon photonics program. Further enhancements to the chips were enabled through strategic collaboration with Bell Laboratories, the R&D arm of Alcatel Lucent (see “IME, Alcatel-Lucent to collaborate on silicon photonics”).

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 knowhow of silicon manufacturing accrued over the past 40 years. The result should be a dramatic reduction in cost of manufacturing photonic devices, sidestepping one of the main obstacles that has hindered their widespread adoption.

"This milestone reflects the rapidly growing commercial significance of silicon photonics," said Prof. Dim-Lee Kwong, the executive director of IME. "IME will continue to enhance our silicon photonics technology platform and work with our strategic partners to bring the benefits of silicon photonics to the industry worldwide."

"I'm delighted that IME and GlobalFoundries are working with Bell Labs to accelerate the development of the exciting silicon photonics technology, which holds such promise for use in communication systems," said Alice White, chief scientist, Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs. "Bell Labs has been actively engaging leading microelectronics research institutes in silicon photonics research – it is exciting to see these efforts moving forward into the commercial realm."

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