AIM Photonics to Lead $19M DARPA-Funded Photonics Program

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AIM Photonics (American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics), part of NY CREATES, announced $19 million in research program awards for advanced integrated photonics research projects. The awards are under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Lasers for Universal Microscale Optical Systems (LUMOS) program.

The LUMOS program supports efficient, on-chip optical gain in integrated photonic platforms, aimed at realizing end-to-end photonic functionality on single-crystal silicon substrates for disruptive optical microsystems.

A photonic integrated chips produced by AIM Photonics at NY CREATES 300mm Microelectronic Chip Research Facility. Courtesy of NY CREATES.
A photonic integrated chip produced by AIM Photonics at NY CREATES 300mm Microelectronic Chip Research Facility. Courtesy of NY CREATES.
Per the award, AIM Photonics will lead a team of academic, industrial, and government partners working to advance existing technology and develop new technologies for applications with self-driving vehicles, AR, 3D camera technology, and quantum computing. In addition to applications in those areas, AIM Photonics CEO Michael Cumbo identified benefits to military microsystems, big data, and biosensing as those to which the award will contribute.

Additional program partners include the University of California, Santa Barbara; Analog Photonics; IQE; and NAsPIII/V GmbH.

Beyond addressing equipment and process challenges associated with the photonics technology, the LUMOS team, through the funding, will develop a standard laser design into nontraditional, silicon-based integration. Analog Photonics, a Tier 1 AIM Photonics member and partner in design, will assist with system implementation.

“Eight years ago, a team of engineers from the Albany Fab and Analog Photonics began implementing our first PIC (photonic integrated chip) designs and our first DARPA program,” said Mike Watts, CEO of Analog Photonics, and AIM Photonics CTO. “Back then, we didn’t have the capabilities to even consider direct integration of gain on-chip. Fast forward eight years later, including five years with AIM Photonics, we are now accelerating this technology to a level of maturity approaching CMOS electronics, including lidar on a chip, which will ultimately make self-driving vehicles mainstream and 3D camera technology standard in consumer electronics.”

Published: December 2020
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