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Photonics Right Technology for Government to Invest in Next Generation
Jul 2009
Jul. 17, 2009 — The Institute of Microelectronics (IME), a research institute of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research, and Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent’s research arm, recently signed a research collaboration agreement to jointly develop advanced photonics technology for next-generation cost-effective high data-rate communication networks.

I got in touch with IME, to find out more about the low cost integrated silicon-based photonics devices and improved processes that will be built under the new collaboration.

According to the IME spokesperson, the ultimate aim of silicon photonics platform in IME is to achieve a fully monolithic integrated photonics circuits, with CMOS-compatible technology, thus the means of mass-production can fully leverage on existing CMOS IC infrastructures.

IMESingapore.jpgThe integration with CMOS technology is the reason widely cited for the anticipated high-integration level of functionalities (e.g., electronic information processing and optical information communication), and cost-effectiveness. The current collaboration will tailor the platform technology to meet the specific design requirement of the photonic integrated circuits (PIC) with commercial product specifications.

Obviously, there are several other such programs in the pipeline in the optical communications space. The spokesperson added that nearly all current IME collaboration projects with its customers have their respective business potential in mind. Most projects are supported and funded by their business units. This explains the research/development collaboration to productization pipeline practice.

"Presently, we are working in various DWDMs, integrated photonic IC with active devices for signal detection or modulation, photonic components integrated with CMOS IC and packaging utilizing the silicon CMOS process capabilities with precise alignment," he noted.

There is a growing demand for new multimedia consumer content services and governments across the APAC region. Presenting his views on this, the IME spokesperson said that photonics has found wide demand, other than the traditional long distances telecommunication, in shorter distance data communication with high bandwidth.

Internet – with large volume information demand, e.g., video-on-demand, high-quality gaming, HDTV, homenet-based entertainment systems, etc. – is said to be the example of high rising demand in consumer market. One characteristic of these markets is large volume, low cost, and extendibility to higher bandwidth upgrade, which cannot be supported by the expensive traditional approach.

From the government or national strategy, green technology with energy-efficient devices, carbon-emission reduction is of huge interest on their agenda. Due to the Internet's widely populating trend, IT will consume a high portion of the total energy consumption. One obvious example is the heat generation in data center, power on and heat management issue of laser.

Integrated PIC has the advantage of combating this power issue and thermal management challenges and thus offers unique solution. Therefore, photonics is the right technology for government to invest the next-generation technology, he added.

July 17, 2009

The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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