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  • A*STAR Targets Silicon Photonics Industry
Jun 2006
SINGAPORE, June 27, 2006 -- Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), a national agency for science and technology supporting the development of industry clusters, aims to harness its silicon photonics capabilities to jump-start a silicon photonics industry in Singapore through joint research and development, production and manufacturing with local and overseas partners.

A*STAR's Institute of Microelectronics (IME) and US-based technology company SiOptical Inc. signed a research collaboration agreement this week to jointly develop fabrication technology for silicon-based photonics and circuits, such as silicon waveguides, optical modulators, detectors and associated fiber alignment structures. In addition, a three-party memorandum of understanding was signed by IME, SiOptical and Singapore-based Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd. in support of the manufacture of the silicon photonics technology and optoelectronics devices jointly developed by IME and SiOptical. SiOptical, based in Allentown, Pa., produces integrated optics and electronics for high-bandwidth communications using CMOS technology.

IME is a research institute of A*STAR. Its established process modules for silicon photonics crystal and processing capabilities will be used in the one-year collaborative project with SiOptical to develop the required fabrication technology for silicon-based optical devices and circuits. All the device fabrication technology will be complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS)-compatible and developed in a manner that can potentially be transferred to Chartered's fabrication facilities for mass production.

IME's collaboration with SiOptical and Chartered is the first industry effort in Singapore to harness silicon photonics technologies and is a milestone in Exploit Technologies' flagship program on silicon photonics, A*STAR said in a statement. Exploit Technologies Pte. Ltd. (ETPL), also in Singapore, is the commercialization arm of A*STAR, manages the intellectual property portfolio of A*STAR's research institutes and centers. ETPL facilitates the transfer of A*STAR's technologies to industry.

Optoelectronic devices used by telecommunication companies, and long haul fiber-optic networks for high-bandwidth communications over thousands of kilometers, are typically made from materials like indium phosphide and gallium arsenide, which are costly to mass produce. Silicon photonics is the use of silicon-based materials for the generation, guidance, control and detection of light to communicate information. As silicon has proven to be cost-effective for the fabrication of integrated circuits, building optical devices on a silicon platform is considered a major focus in developing next-generaion optoelectronic integrated circuits, A*STAR said.

Boon Swan Foo, managing director of A*STAR and executive chairman of Exploit Technologies, said, "Exploit Technologies has identified silicon photonics as a competitive strength of A*STAR and will be driving it under our flagship program. We aim to create disruptive IPs and technologies over the next three years and build up an industry here by attracting more companies to Singapore. This collaboration with SiOptical is a strategic step in utilizing and enhancing IME's CMOS process capability in fabricating silicon photonics devices."

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