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Photonic Integrated Circuits applications from optical signal processing, optical communication, biophotonics, to sensing

Photonics is the analog of electronics in that it describes the technology in which photons instead of electrons are used to acquire, store, transmit, and process information. Photonics is a breakthrough technology as it uses photons (smallest unit of light) as the data carrier instead of electrons (smallest unit of electricity) used in electronic ICs. As light travels at very high speeds, photonics is widely used to transfer huge amounts of data at a very high speed.

 

Just as an Integrated circuit (IC) is a microelectronic device that houses multiple electric circuits on a chip, a photonic integrated circuit (PIC) or Integrated Photonic circuits (IPC) are devices that integrate multiple photonic functions on a chip.

 

This technology detects, generates, transports, and processes light. Photonic integrated circuits utilize photons (or particles of light) as opposed to electrons that are utilized by electronic integrated circuits. The major difference between the two is that a photonic integrated circuit provides functions for information signals imposed on optical wavelengths typically in the visible spectrum or near infrared 850 nm-1650 nm.

 

Photons are capable of traveling at the speed of light and moving through various materials without any loss. Integrated photonics may feature a very high-frequency range to allow high data throughput in an energy-efficient manner. A typical IPC may consist of single-photon sources, nonlinear photon processing circuits, and photon detectors all integrated onto a solid-state chip. Photonic integrated circuits (PICs) have attracted considerable attention owing to their small footprint, scalability, reduced power consumption, and enhanced processing stability.

 

Photonic integrated circuits are a combination of photonic sensors and other electronic components. They use photons (light) to perform various optical functions. In a photonic integrated circuit, signals are processed using a combination of visible and infrared radiation. Photonic sensors are used in PICs to convert the light into an electric signal.

 

The high speed and high bandwidth provided by photonic integrated circuits have been the major drivers for the global photonic integrated circuit market over recent years. Along with their high speed and bandwidth, photonic integrated circuits also consume less energy than conventional integrated circuits, making them doubly attractive to end users. In the case of photonic ICs, it is estimated that the power consumed in such critical applications could be reduced by at least 50%. The frequencies that could be covered with photons are about 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the spectrum to be covered with microelectronics. This means that using photonic ICs, end-users can achieve much higher frequencies that are far more energy-efficient when compared to traditional ICs. This is likely to remain the major driver for the global photonic integrated circuit market.

 

Photonics has immense potential applications in many areas of present and future information and image processing technologies. The use of photonics for transmitting signals over optical low-loss fiber transmission lines provides an option to replace traditional coaxial cables used by telecommunication systems.

 

Photonics-based products are widely deployed in the field of optical fiber & optical free-space communications. The onset of 5G has put the focus on wireless and radio technology. However, photonics and fiber optics have been acting as critical support in transporting signals to and from the new generation of base stations.

 

Photonic Integrated Circuits (PIC) are slowly growing beyond the field of telecommunication and data communication that has pushed most technological developments over the past decades. Photonic integrated circuits have become widely popular in various applications, including nanoelectronics, LIDAR, calorimetry, and various silicon-based technologies.

 

The growing use of photonic integrated circuits in quantum computing is likely to be a major driver for the global photonic integrated circuit market. Quantum computing has become a must-have in various crucial applications in recent years due to its higher processing speed and ability to multi-function easily. Developments in quantum computing have also come on at a rapid rate in recent years due to the significant investment made by major tech players in quantum computing. This has increased the demand from the photonic integrated circuit market in recent years and is likely to be a major driver for the global photonic integrated circuit market.

 

Another emerging application for Photonic IC is Microwave photonics (MWP),  an emerging interdisciplinary area that investigates the interaction between microwave and optical waves for the generation, processing, control, distribution and measurement of microwave, millimeter-wave and THz-frequency signals.

 

However, the huge power consumption and complexity of the design may confine the expansion of the photonic integrated circuits market. This restraint creates a vital space for the development of new technologies, thus intensifying the competition in the PIC market.

Monolithic integration vs. Micro-optic assemblies

The technologies described before are used to fabricate complete optical devices using only a single material substrate: this is known as monolithic integration. This goes one step further than the current assembly of micro-optical components in miniature photonic systems. By integrating all devices into a single chip, complex assembly, alignment and stabilization processes are avoided, and packaging and testing are greatly simplified. Moreover, it is the only way to scale up complexity when moving over 20-30 components into a single package.

 

The election of the integration material will then determine the capabilities and limitations for the technology platform, making some of them more appropriate for certain applications than others. Currently, monolithic integration for SOI and InP relies on mature and well-established fabrication processes, rendering high yield manufacturing platforms for even the most demanding markets.

The major difference between the two is that a photonic integrated circuit provides functions for information signals imposed on optical wavelengths typically in the visible spectrum or near infrared 850 nm-1650 nm.

Application-Specific Photonic Integrated Circuit (ASPIC)

On a PIC, optical functional building blocks are connected together with waveguides.  An Application-Specific Photonic Integrated Circuit (ASPIC) is an optical chip designed for a very particular purpose, that allows to generate, manipulate and detect light signals by means of other light and/or electronic signals. An ASPIC may integrate several active optical devices, like lasers or photo-detectors, and passive structures like splitters, couplers, interferometers, filters, or polarization handling elements.

 

For example the integration of optical components and functions into a large scale PIC shows significant benefits when it is integrated into an optical communication system. It enables significant power, space and cost savings, new functionality and so new significant increasing transmission capacity of communication systems.

 

The unique ability to replace the traditional assembly of several discrete optical or micro-optical components by a single miniaturized chip, places ASPICs as the major driver for future optical systems and photonic enabled products. Such integration brings the following benefits:
• cost reduction, especially for large volumes (thousands to millions), due to lower packaging and testing costs,
• aggregation of functionalities, lowering design complexity and increasing scalability and yield, and
• decrease in size, volume and weight, with higher robustness and  simpler assemblies.

 

PICs still are several orders of magnitude more expensive than their microelectronic counterparts, which has restricted their application to a few niche markets. In microelectronics, there is a clear exponential development in the number of transistors per chip, which has been doubling every two years on average during the last four decades. This phenomenon is known as Moore’s law.  Similar development is occurring in micro photonics, albeit in an early stage.

 

Research is being done to overcome all these challenges enabling the integration of photonic components such as lasers, optical amplifiers modulators,MUX/DEMUX components and photodiodes on-chip would enable them to be used in optical signal processing, optical communication, biophotonics, and sensing applications.

 

Main Integration Technologies

Unlike electronic integration where silicon is the dominant material, system photonic integrated circuits have been fabricated from a variety of material systems, including electro-optic crystals such as lithium niobate, silica on silicon,  Silicon on insulator, various polymers and semiconductor materials which are used to make semiconductor lasers such as GaAs and InP.

Different technologies can be chosen to design and manufacture ASPICs, depending on the suitability of the base material to the application at hand. InP based PICs allow the direct integration of light sources and Silicon PICs enable co-integration of the photonics with transistor based electronics.

The most relevant technologies are:
• Silicon photonics: Silicon on Insulator(220 nm and 3 μm SOI), and Si based Silica on Silicon (SiO2, also known as PLC) and Silicon Nitride ( SiN and TriPleX).

• III-V photonics: Indium Phosphide (InP), Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) and derivatives: Using InP in PICs offers significant performance advantages over other substitutes such as silicon. Moreover, they find extensive applications in data transmission and telecommunications, since InP is the most important material for the generation of laser signals, and the conversion of those signals back to the electronic form. The growth of 3D-sensing applications across the industrial sector has further strengthened the demand for InP-based PICs in the photonic integrated circuits market.
• Lithium Niobate (LiNbO3) and other more exotic materials

 

Silica (silicon dioxide) based PICs have very desirable properties for passive photonic circuits such as AWGs due to their comparatively low losses and low thermal sensitivity. The arrayed waveguide grating (AWG) which are commonly used as optical (de)multiplexers in wavelength division multiplexed (WDM) fiber-optic communication systems are an example of a photonic integrated circuit which has replaced previous multiplexing schemes which utilized multiple discrete filter elements. Since separating optical modes is a need for quantum computing, this technology may be helpful to miniaturize quantum computers

The fabrication techniques are similar to those used in electronic integrated circuits in which photolithography is used to pattern wafers for etching and material deposition. Unlike electronics where the primary device is the transistor, there is no single dominant device. The range of devices required on a chip includes low loss interconnect waveguides, power splitters, optical amplifiers, optical modulators, filters, lasers and detectors. These devices require a variety of different materials and fabrication techniques making it difficult to realize all of them on a single chip.

 

Most PICs today are developed as an application-specific circuit (ASPIC), which is one of the reasons that the adoption of these optical chips is quite limited today, even when the technology has proven to be very useful for diverse applications, such as sensing, spectroscopy, and microwave processing, and the benefits of on-chip integration are similar as those of integrated electronics, in terms of cost, form factor, complexity, energy consumption and increased functionality.

 

Programmable photonic circuits

The growing maturity of integrated photonic technology makes it possible to build increasingly large and complex photonic circuits on the surface of a chip. Today, most of these circuits are designed for a specific application, but the increase in complexity has introduced a generation of photonic circuits that can be programmed using software for a wide variety of functions through a mesh of on-chip waveguides, tunable beam couplers and optical phase shifters.

 

Because they are generic and programmable, programmable PICs can change the way PICs are used in the development of new applications and products. This can be compared with programmable electronics: the widespread availability of programmable electronics (FPGAs, microprocessors, digital signal processors, …) makes it possible to implement new functions in a matter of days, without the need to fabricate custom silicon. prototyping and even product development, and only if it is needed for reasons of cost or performance, a dedicated
chip is designed and fabricated. Programmable PICs can do the same for photonics, opening up the manipulation of coherent light to a diverse range of applications. And only if a market value has been confirmed, a dedicated ASPIC needs to be made

 

Photonic Integrated Circuits Market

Photonic Integrated Circuit Market Size was valued at USD 5.9 billion in 2022. The Photonic Integrated Circuit market industry is projected to grow from USD 7.10773 Billion in 2023 to USD 31.5327 billion by 2032, exhibiting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.47% during the forecast period (2023 – 2032).

Superior benefits offered by photonic integrated circuits in terms of power consumption (energy efficiency), size, speed, and cost are collectively driving the photonic integrated circuits (PIC) market.

The increased testing phase of 5G technology is also expected to boost the photonic integrated circuit market. Many developments in integrated circuits and
sensors are the key market drivers enhancing market growth.

The increasing demand for optical communication and sensing applications is driving the growth of photonic ICs around the globe with efficient management of data centers and long-haul networks providing a thriving market for them.  The extensive deployment of fiber-optic telecommunication networks has created new opportunities for the growth of photonics technology. As current technologies are progressing in terms of capacity, speed, and accuracy, photonics technology may offer powerful new solutions. With increasing video traffic, there is high demand for communication systems for the Internet, which can only be met by photonic integrated circuits.  In addition, escalating demand for high-speed communication, especially in the optical communication field has further fueled market momentum.

 

As per Uptime Institute’s Data Center Industry Survey, the majority of the operators have a hybrid strategy on DC operation. With IT workloads being spread across a range of services and data centers, Uptime shared that about a third of all workloads to be shifted to the cloud, colocation, hosting, and Software as a Service (SaaS) suppliers in 2021.

According to Cisco’s 2015-2020 GCI, as of 2022, 92% of workloads could be on the cloud across the data centers, indicating a critical need for advanced switching and data transfer hardware that could be met by hybrid PICs.
Additionally, booming demand for larger bandwidth, and strong adoption of cloud services by SMEs, typically heightened amid the COVID-19 situations, have acted as a boost to data centers. A trend of Switch data rate increase and Transceiver data rate increase is observed driving the PIC adoption.

 

These factors are expected to contribute towards a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.2% during the forecast period 2020 – 2028. However, slower transition towards digitization and issues related to design and fabrication are some of the major challenges faced by the photonic IC market.

 

The development of silicon photonics technology has helped in large scale manufacturing of PICs at low cost. Also current leading players have developed monolithically integrated Indium Phosphide (InP) based PICs that can integrate more than 600 components/functions in a single chip.

 

 

Segmentation:

The global photonic integrated circuit market is segmented on the basis of integration type, component, application, and region.

By integration type, the global photonic integrated circuit market is segmented into hybrid, monolithic, and module.

By component, the global photonic integrated circuit market is segmented into lasers, modulators, photodetectors, attenuators, and optical amplifiers.

By application, the global photonic integrated circuit market is segmented into optical fiber communication, optical fiber sensor, biomedical, quantum computing, and others. The quantum computing segment is likely to retain an important share in the global photonic integrated circuit market over the forecast period. Optical fiber communication is also likely to be an important application segment of the global photonic integrated circuit market over the forecast period.

 

“Also, the growing adoption of the biophotonic application in medical devices also holds considerable growth opportunities for the photonic ICs market.

 

Optical sensors application is the other promising application in this market. It is used in fields like defense, aerospace, energy, transportation, medicine, and other emerging fields. Quantum computing is another application of PICs that is forecasted to be commercialized in 2017. This technology is expected to completely revolutionize the computing industry. PICs are also used in the biomedical field. InP-based application-specific photonic ICs are being used for the diagnostic analysis of opaque skin tissue. The technique principally used here is Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) or Raman Scatterometry.

 

The optical communication segment covering wireless access networks, long haul and transport networks, and data center applications was the largest application segment in the global photonic integrated circuits (PIC) market, accounting for over 40% of the market revenue in 2019. Over the forecast period 2020 – 2028, the segment is anticipated to remain the largest contributor to the global photonic integrated circuits market (PIC), majorly supported by the escalating demand for high speed communication in wireless access networks and data center applications. Other major application fields include sensing and biophotonics.

 

The advent of photonic technology has revolutionized the healthcare industry, offering a reliable means to detect, treat, and/or prevent disease at an early stage. Optical signal processing is another potential application field for photonic ICs. The optical signal processing segment is estimated to witness maximum growth among all other application fields during the forecast period 2020 – 2028. The anticipated growth can be attributed to the expected commercialization of quantum computing during the forecast period.

 

 

Indium Phosphide (InP) is the most preferred raw material used in photonic integrated circuits. In 2019, Indium Phosphide accounted for around 30% of the global market revenue. It is expected to remain the most preferred raw material used for photonic integration during the forecast period 2020 – 2028.

 

The dominance of Indium Phosphide can be attributed to its ability to integrate active as well as passive optical functions onto one single material substrate. In addition, other benefits offered in terms of cost, reliability, and energy efficiency make Indium Phosphide a preferred raw material for photonic integration. Other raw materials including silicon and silicon-on-insulator are also widely used in photonic integrated circuits on account of low cost, easy availability, and simple fabrication offered by these materials.

 

Hybrid integration is the chief integration technique used for photonic integration. In 2019, the hybrid integration technique accounted for about 50% of the global market revenue share. Although it is expected to remain the major photonic integration technique, monolithic integration method is expected to witness maximum adoption, growing at a CAGR of 20.8% during the forecast period 2020 – 2028. The anticipated growth can be credited to its capability to integrate both medium and large sized photonic integrated circuits.

 

Furthermore, superior benefits offered in terms of reliability, power efficiency, and testing has convinced manufacturers across the globe to increasingly employ monolithic integration technique. Module integration is another technique employed for photonic integration. It accounted for the least revenue share in 2019. Over the forecast period 2020 – 2028, it is expected to exhibit sluggish growth. Inability to merge large number of optical functions and low fiber coupling integration offered as compared to other techniques is seen as the major roadblock in widespread use of module integration technique.

 

Geographical

In terms of revenue, North America (comprising U.S., and Rest of North America) represented the largest photonic IC market, accounting for over 30% of the global revenue share in 2019. The U.S. represents the largest and the most lucrative photonic IC market worldwide. The photonic IC market in North America is majorly driven by the increasing penetration of photonic technology in the field of fiber optic communication, especially data center applications and wireless access networks.

 

At present North America has the largest market for PIC based products, especially in data centers and WAN applications of optical fiber communications. However, APAC is the largest player in the access network application of optical fiber communications right now. North America is the leader in a PIC market with 49% market share however it is estimated that APAC will emerge as the market leader by 2022 growing at a CAGR of 35.9% from 2012 to 2022.

 

 

In North America, the demand for photonic integrated circuits (PIC) based products is driven by data centers and WAN applications of fiber optic communication. The growing need for high-speed data transmission increased the data traffic in cloud computing, and the rapid roll-out of IoT has created a potentially booming photonic integrated circuit industry in the region. According to Cisco Cloud Index, North America is expected to generate the most cloud traffic (7.7 ZB per year) by the end of 2021. Such trends are expected to increase market adoption.
According to Cloudscene, the United States holds the highest number of data centers globally, which is almost 2600 data centers in the country. This is almost 33% of the entire world.

 

Service providers face increasing demand for bandwidth, much of which is being driven by mobile, video, and cloud-based services. Companies are expected to base their optical networks on the PIC, which is likely to contribute to the market’s growth positively. In the region, multinational companies, such as IBM Corporation, Intel Corporation, and Cisco, are working hand in hand with partners in academia, business, and the government to develop PIC-based solutions for communications challenges.

 

For smaller enterprises, public-private partnerships have forged national research consortiums, such as American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics, Rochester, NY) in the United States, Canadian Photonic Industry Consortium, Florida Photonics Cluster, and Ontario Photonics Industry Network.

 

In addition, presence of large number of photonic device manufacturers and continual research in the field of photonics has further cemented its leading position. Although North America is expected to remain the largest photonic IC market over the forecast period 2020 – 2028, Asia Pacific is expected to witness maximum growth, growing at a CAGR of 21.5%. The anticipated growth in the region is expected to be driven by the escalating demand from data center and biophotonics applications during the forecast period 2020 – 2028.

 

Europe’s plans for  leadership in Integrated photonics

Integrated photonics is explicitly mentioned in the European Chips Act, with access to enhanced and new advanced pilot lines for experimentation, testing, and validation of new design concepts. Europe already hosts a mix of medium and small foundries for silicon photonics (SiP) and indium phosphide (InP) photonics manufacturing.

Looking to provide Europe with a state-of-the-art infrastructure to support the development and manufacture of photonic integrated circuits (PICs), the EU is investing €15.5million in an international consortium called PIXAPP, which will be led by Ireland’s Tyndall National Institute. Packaging PICs can represent up to 80% of the cost of photonics components, so is a critical area for industry. PIXAPP is the world’s first open access PIC assembly and packaging pilot line, combining an interdisciplinary team from Europe’s leading industrial and research organisations.

 

The prime objective of PICs4All is to increase the impact of photonics and enable access to the advanced photonic integrated circuit (PIC) technologies for academia, research institutes, SMEs and larger companies. This will be achieved by establishing a European network of Application Support Centres (ASCs) in the field of PIC technology. The main task of the ASCs is to lower the barrier to Researchers and SMEs for applying advanced PICs, and thus to increase the awareness of the existence of the worldwide unique facility provided by JePPIX (InP and TriPleX PIC design, manufacturing, testing and packaging).

The main objectives of PICs4All are: active scouting opportunities for the use of PICs; promoting the use of the PIC platforms; strengthening Europe’s industrial lead in the business of integrated photonics; bringing together academia to explore photonics and promote its critical importance. These will be achieved by: reaching out to potential users that are not yet aware of the benefits of PIC’s; organizing PIC design courses, workshops; connecting users to optical chip designers; assisting access to Multi-Project Wafer runs for PIC fabrication; actual supporting in layout design and testing of prototype PICs. All the activities are advocated by publicity e.g. newsletters, application notes and participation in conferences and exhibitions.

 

H2020-funded INSPIRE project to lead a revolution in photonic integrated circuits with so-called micro-transfer printing technology and establishment of world-first fabrication platform. INSPIRE aims to sustain Europe’s industrial leadership in photonics by consolidating established fabrication approaches, such as those from the pioneering pure-play foundry and TU/e spinoff SMART Photonics and the silicon photonics pioneer imec, with the micro-transfer printing technology of X-Celeprint. This will result in a world-first fabrication platform that combines the strengths of two of the most well-known PIC manufacturing platforms. Methods will chiefly be developed for the coupling of SiN and InP processes, but could also be used for silicon-based photonics.

 

INSPIRE coordinator prof. Martijn Heck from Eindhoven University of Technology is excited by the possibilities that lie ahead: “By combining SMART and imec technologies, with only minor changes to the fabrication processes, we can leverage the major investments in the development of these platforms from the last decade. We can thus significantly reduce the time needed to transfer our technology out of the lab, and make a faster and telling impact in new application areas.”

 

With a €1.1 billion envelope, the Netherlands expects to occupy a prominent place on the European and global photonics scenes. PhotonDelta is a collaborative public-private ecosystem that was set up in 2018 to implement the Dutch National Plan for Integrated Photonics. It designs, develops, and manufactures solutions with integrated photonics technology. By 2030, PhotonDelta aims to create an ecosystem of hundreds of companies, serving customers worldwide through a planned production capacity of more than 100,000 wafers per year.

 

The €1.1 billion public-private investment includes €470 million of funding from the National Growth Fund (Nationaal Groeifonds). The rest is co-funded by TU/e, the University of Twente (UT), Delft University of Technology (TUD), Holst Center, TNO, imec, the Photonic Integration Technology Center (PITC), the Chip Integration Technology Center (CITC), OnePlanet, Smart Photonics, LioniX International, Effect Photonics, MantiSpectra, PhotonFirst, PHIX, and Bright Photonics.

 

 

Integrated Photonics Industry

Leading players in the global photonic integrated circuit market include Mellanox Technologies Ltd., Kaiam Corporation, JDS Uniphase Corporation, Intel Corporation, Infinera Corporation, Hewlett-Packard Company, Finisar Corporation, Enablence Technologies Inc., EMCORE Corporation, CyOptics Inc., Ciena Corporation, Broadcom Limited (U.S.), Alcatel-Lucent SA, Aifotec AG, and Agilent Technologies Inc., Viavi Solutions, Inc. (U.S.), and NeoPhotonics Corporation (U.S.). Other key vendors include Oclaro, Inc., Luxtera Inc., Infinera Corp., Finisar Corporation, Ciena Corporation, and Emcore Corporation, among others.

 

These players have played a great role in changing the market dynamics. For example Infinera has introduced 500 Gb/s PICs used in long haul flex coherent super channels. The main features of this product are simplicity, scalability, efficiency and reliability. On the other hand Neophotonics has developed an Optical Line Terminal Transceiver using Photonic Integrated Circuit Technology which is designed to lower the overall cost of FTTH network installation.

Some of the recent developments in the market are:

March 2022 – EFFECT Photonics and Jabil Photonics have announced that they would collaborate on the development of a new generation of coherent optical modules. The modules offer a unique solution for network operators and hyperscalers who seek to benefit from QSFP-high DD’s performance, small footprint, low power consumption and cost, field replaceability, and vendor interoperability for cloud DCIs (Data Center Interconnects). The next-generation coherent optical modules handle the increased demand for data flow, service continuity, security issues, worldwide expansion, and sustainability.

March 2022 – ColorChip Group and Skorpios Technologies, Inc., a vertically integrated pioneer in heterogeneously integrated silicon photonics, established a strategic partnership to use Skorpios’ disruptive optical technology to produce optical modules at previously unheard-of prices. ColorChip will sell its own brand of modules as well as private label modules for Skorpios to sell at various speeds and performance levels. Future products, such as Co-packaged Optics and Coherent Modules, will be developed in collaboration.

September 2021 – NeoPhotonics announced the launch of the high output power version of its 400G Multi-Rate CFP2-DCO coherent pluggable transceiver with 0 dBm output power and designed to operate in the metro, regional, and long-haul ROADM based optical networks. It is based on NeoPhotonics vertically integrated Indium Phosphide technology platform, including the ultra-pure Nano tunable laser and Class 40 Coherent Driver Modulator (CDM) and Coherent Receiver (ICR).

Infinera PICs

Infinera company has pioneered the monolithic integration of hundreds of photonic functions, including lasers, modulators, waveguides and other optical components, into large-scale PICs, as well as the use of semiconductor manufacturing processes for PICs. PICs provide  significant flexibility and efficiency benefits when integrated into DWDM systems.

 

Meanwhile, electronic function integration has been progressing as CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) technology continues to improve. As feature sizes have shrunk and design tools improved over the years, the maximum complexity possible in an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) has grown from thousands of gates to several hundreds of millions. This level of integration delivers higher processing power in terms of GBaud (symbol rate) and bits per symbol, thereby allowing higher order modulation formats and coherent detection, ultimately resulting in better capacity reach performance.

 

Infinera combines large-scale PICs with coherent ASICs, two important technologies for 500 Gb/s and terabit super-channel transmission. In the first coherent era, Infinera’s transmitter modulators were driven directly, and the optical impairments resulting from transmission were compensated for in the receiver by Infinera’s FlexCoherent Processor. When this technology was introduced into the market, it enabled the move from 10 Gb/s to 100 Gb/s per channel, a tenfold increase in fiber capacity, and at the same time increased the typical optical reach from about 2,500 kilometers to about 4,500 kilometers.

 

Infinera’s latest FlexCoherent design introduces transmitter based processing and enhances receiver-based capability in which the transmitter modulators are now driven by the combination of an advanced DSP and a digital-to-analog converter (DAC), which improves spectral shaping. This new design, combining electronic and photonic enhancements, introduces new capabilities, enabling operators to improve their fiber capacity reach performance

 

Skorpios Technologies Announces Telcordia Qualification of its Heterogeneous Photonic Integrated Circuit Technology Platform in 2021

Integrated silicon photonics company, Skorpios Technologies, Inc., has achieved formal Telcordia qualification for its 100G CWDM4 chipset and 100G CWDM4 optical transceiver, both now available in limited quantities. These developments are based on Skorpios’ Heterogeneous Photonic Integrated Circuit (HPIC) technology platform, which seamlessly integrates III-V material into a standard CMOS process flow. The testing process demonstrated full compliance with GR-468 standards, surpassing Telcordia requirements with over 10,000 hours of high-temperature operating life (HTOL), against a 2,000-hour requirement, and aging tests indicating a 50+ year lifetime for the four-channel devices. This qualification underscores the best-in-class reliability of Skorpios’ HPIC technology platform, allowing the company to offer products with the performance of traditional III-V optoelectronic devices, the cost advantages of silicon photonics, and scalability for next-generation products not achievable by either traditional III-V or silicon photonics alone.

 

 

Synopsys and Photonics Industry Leaders Partner to Advance PIC Technology with Plasmonics in 2019

Synopsys, Inc. (Nasdaq: SNPS) has successfully completed the PLASMOfab research project, funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 program, aiming to enable mass production of high-performance plasmo-photonic components. This three-year project has significantly advanced Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs) and CMOS-compatible plasmonics for optical data communications and biosensing, particularly for point-of-care applications. PLASMOfab focused on developing CMOS-compatible metals and photonic structures harmonically co-integrated with electronics using standardized CMOS processes. A notable achievement was the creation of an ultra-compact plasmonic transmitter with a small footprint of 90 x 5.5 µm², capable of transmitting 0.8 TBit/s (800Gbit/s) through four individual 0.2 TBit/s transmitters.  The project’s success suggests that further development of CMOS-compatible plasmonic components will bring advantages to PICs, showcasing unprecedented performance and functionality across various applications while meeting mass production requirements.

Oct 2023: DustPhotonics has unveiled a groundbreaking achievement in practical photonics for data centers with its introduction of the single-chip 800G-DR8 silicon photonics chip.

Positioned as a high-performance and easily implementable solution for system architects, this innovation is a major milestone for data center applications. The photonic integrated circuit (PIC) leverages silicon photonics, offering a more mature and scalable process compared to other wide bandgap semiconductors. As the demand for higher data rates increases, especially with 800 Gb/s transmission and future 1.6 Tb/s and 3.2 Tb/s rates, photonics solutions like DustPhotonics’ 800G-DR8 are becoming critical for improving bandwidth and efficiency in data center communications.

The DustPhotonics 800G-DR8 chip supports eight optical channels, each modulated at 100 Gb/s, and is designed for DR8 applications. Its use of silicon photonics allows for a single-chip solution, simplifying system architecture and reducing power loss and costs. The chip also incorporates DustPhotonics’ low-loss laser coupling technology, supporting various off-the-shelf lasers. With a reported 20% power reduction compared to solutions using discrete components, the 800G-DR8 addresses the growing need for higher data rates in data centers, with production expected to commence in Q1 2024 after the sampling stage.

 

References and Resources also include:

https://www.eetimes.eu/integrated-photonics-shines-bright-in-the-netherlands/

https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2022/06/10/2460434/0/en/Global-Photonic-Integrated-Circuit-Market-Growth-Trends-COVID-19-Impact-and-Forecasts-2022-2027.html

 

About Rajesh Uppal

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