Skorpios demos CMOS tunable laser, nears production

Silicon photonics startup Skorpios Technologies has demonstrated the first fruits of its labors, a CMOS laser tunable across the C-Band. The demonstration signals that the company is near to delivering its first products, a milestone a company source says will occur by the end of this year.

Silicon photonics startup Skorpios Technologies has demonstrated the first fruits of its labors, a CMOS laser tunable across the C-Band. The demonstration signals that the company is near to delivering its first products, a milestone a company source says will occur by the end of this year.

The laser leverages the Skorpios Template Assisted Bonding (STAB) process. According to Rob Stone, vice president of marketing and product management at Skorpios, STAB involves bonding a III-V epitaxial layer to a CMOS wafer. This enables creation of the laser via CMOS processes while other photonic elements are created in silicon. The finished product sees the III-V layer encapsulated within the silicon. Thus, not only does the STAB process enable light sources to be created via CMOS, but it also obviates the need for the “gold box” packaging of conventionally created lasers. The only active alignment necessary would be when connecting to fiber.

Skorpios plans to target applications requiring wavelengths in the 1300- and 1550-nm regions (VCSEL-like performance at 850 nm is not compatible with the silicon photonic process, Stone says). The right III-V material for the targeted wavelength region can be applied as necessary; Stone says that products using both regions can be produced.

The company’s goal is to create a library of function-based “macrocells,” similar to those in the ASIC world, via which it can create a range of both custom and MSA-based products. The macrocells likely will cover such functions as multiplexing, switching, and combining, among others. The first of the resultant “Skorpios Optical ASICs” are being developed specifically for some of the company’s initial investors, Stone says. This group includes Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks, Deutsche Telekom (via its venture capital firm, T-Venture), venture capitalists Cottonwood Technology Fund and Sun Mountain Capital, as well as a systems integrator and another carrier whom Stone declined to identify.

Several silicon photonics firms have yet to create light sources in silicon. Stone says Skorpios has not yet pursued partnering with such companies.

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