NIST, AIM Photonics Partner to Accelerate PIC Performance

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The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has entered into a cooperative R&D agreement with AIM Photonics that will give chip developers a critical new tool for designing faster photonic integrated circuits (PICs). As part of the collaboration, NIST will design electrical “calibration structures” that can be used to measure and test the electronic performance of chips. This will result in improved designs and will accelerate the development of photonic chips faster than most current photonic chips, which typically operate at speeds up to 25 gigahertz (GHz). The calibration structures will be capable of measuring chips operating at speeds up to 110 GHz.
Clean-room technicians at the AIM Photonics NanoTech chip fabrication facility in Albany, New York. Courtesy of SUNY Polytechnic Institute.
Cleanroom technicians at the AIM Photonics NanoTech chip fabrication facility in Albany, N.Y. Courtesy of SUNY Polytechnic Institute.
AIM Photonics will incorporate these calibration structures into its process design kit (PDK) used by engineers when designing new chips for fabrication at AIM’s facilities.

Experts from both organizations are already working to integrate the new measurement structures into AIM Photonics’ foundry process, NIST said. An updated PDK with the calibration structures is expected to be available in approximately one year.  

“This effort will leverage NIST’s expertise in chip measurements, calibration, and integrated device modeling,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Laurie E. Locascio. Though planning for this effort began before the passage of the CHIPS Act, it aligns with the act’s goals. “This shows how government and industry can work together to drive innovation and restore U.S. global leadership in semiconductor manufacturing.”

Earlier this year, supported by American Rescue Act funding, NIST earmarked over $5 million for AIM’s development of photonic technologies addressing the pandemic. The majority of the $5 million was targeted for AIM’s development of disposable integrated photonics-based tests.

Published: December 2022
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