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Second Singapore collaboration couples silicon photonics with lasers

15 Sep 2020

Denselight and Advanced Micro Foundry developing highly integrated approach for both data center and sensing applications.

The dedicated silicon photonics wafer manufacturer Advanced Micro Foundry (AMF), a spin-off from Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), has agreed a new collaboration to integrate indium phosphide (InP) lasers within low-loss “optical engines”.

AMF has signed a memorandum of understanding with Singapore neighbor Denselight Semiconductors to develop technology that can be applied directly onto customer photonic integrated circuit (PIC) designs.

“The solutions will then be offered through the pure-play foundry services of AMF with DenseLight's matching laser integration as part of the AMF Process Design Kits,” announced the pair.

Silicon photonics hot-spot
The collaboration is the second in the area of laser-silicon photonics integration to be revealed in Singapore in the past month. In the other, the CompoundTek foundry is working on a three-year project with Nanyang Technological University to advance tunable lasers.

CompoundTek has also agreed a strategic wafer testing collaboration with Taiwan's STAr Technologies that aims to speed the technology’s move to large-scale production.

According to Denselight and AMF, the highly integrated photonics technology they are working on will help meet the steep growth in traffic within data centers anticipated over the next few years, and exacerbated by responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This will lead to a higher demand for high-speed data center interconnect[s],” the two firms explain. “Silicon photonics technology is uniquely placed to support these requirements, and [is] being deployed to support the transition from 100G to 400G.

“However, silicon photonics chips for these applications require the subsequent attachment of an InP-based external laser light source, and the challenges associated can impact the final optical performance and cost of the interconnects.”

In combining their expertise, AMF and Denselight aim to develop an integrated “low loss - low cost” silicon photonics optical engine with an integrated laser light source, focusing on customer requirements rather than off-the-shelf modules.

“The availability of such made-to-order, turn-key silicon photonics optical engine solutions with integrated light sources will contribute to lower assembly costs and shorten development cycle times of [400G/800G] transceivers and fiber sensing products,” stated the pair.

Denselight eyes China expansion
AMF’s president Patrick Lo said: “For the first time, two Singapore companies are working together to locally develop unique solutions that will promote the widespread adoption of silicon photonics by the data communication industry and by other emerging technologies.”

Rajan Rajgopal, Lo’s counterpart at DenseLight, added: “This memorandum of understanding creates a unique partnership between two synergistic Singapore-based companies to deliver turnkey silicon photonics based solutions to both datacom and fiber sensing customers.

“Our proprietary technology enables the integration of InP-based photonics devices to silicon photonics platforms for efficient light coupling into waveguides.”

Originally a producer of superluminescent LEDs, Denselight was last year acquired by a consortium of industry players and technology investors in China, who bought the firm from Canada's POET Technologies for $26 million.

Following that switch, the company said it planned to expand into China, where much of its customer base is located.

Key plans in the pipeline include the upgrade and expansion of its Singapore facility, as well as the construction of an assembly and testing facility, followed by a high-volume wafer fabrication plant in China - along with scaling up sales and marketing efforts in Singapore, China and the US.

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