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Tower Semiconductor, Quintessent Partner on Silicon Photonics Platform

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MIGDAL HAEMEK, Israel, Sept. 7, 2021 — Tower Semiconductor, a foundry of high-value analog semiconductor solutions, and Quintessent, a connectivity solutions developer using silicon PICs, will partner to develop a silicon photonics process with integrated quantum dot lasers. The technology seeks to address optical connectivity in AI/machine learning and disaggregated computing (data center) markets.

The foundry process will build on Tower’s PH18 production silicon photonics platform and add Quintessent’s III-V quantum dot-based lasers and optical amplifiers to enable a complete suite of active and passive silicon photonic elements. The resulting capability will demonstrate integrated optical gain in a standard foundry silicon photonics process.

The initial process development kit is planned in 2021, with multiproject wafer runs (MPWs) following in 2022.

“Quintessent and Tower are re-defining the frontiers of integrated silicon photonics under this effort,” John Bowers, University of California, Santa Barbara professor and Quintessent co-founder, said. “I am very excited by the prospects for a new class of high-performance lasers and photonic integrated circuits on silicon, leveraging the unique advantages of quantum dot materials.”

The co-integration of lasers and amplifiers with silicon photonics at the circuit element level will improve overall power efficiency, eliminate traditional design constraints such as on-chip loss budgets, simplify packaging, and enable new product architectures and functionalities. For example, a silicon photonic transceiver or sensor product with integrated lasers will be capable of complete self-test at the chip or wafer level.

These advantages are enhanced by using semiconductor quantum-dots as the active optical gain media, which enables devices with greater reliability, lower noise, and the ability to operate efficiently at higher temperatures.

“Bringing the III-V laser diode within our silicon photonics platform will enable single-chip photonic integrated circuit (PIC) design,” David Howard, executive director and fellow, Tower Semiconductor, said. “This means that both III-V quantum dot amplifiers and lasers, and Tower’s silicon photonics passive and active elements, will be delivered by a foundry through a single MPW chip run.”

Alan Liu, co-founder and CEO of Quintessent, said, “This platform has great potential to solve the connectivity bottleneck limiting AI training systems and disaggregated computing, among other applications.”

The augmented PH18 process is part of DARPA’s Lasers for Universal Microscale Optical Systems (LUMOS) program, which aims to bring high-performance lasers to advanced photonics platforms, addressing commercial and defense applications.
Sep 2021
1. A localized fracture at the end of a cleaved optical fiber or on a glass surface. 2. An integrated circuit.
Businesslaserssilicon photonicsfoundrymanufacturingchipsiliconsemiconductorsquantum dotquantum dot laserprocessphotonic integrated circuitPICDARPALUMOSAmericasIsraelcollaboration

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