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NIST and AIM Photonics to co-develop high frequency O/E chips

21 Dec 2022

To enable new chip designs for high-speed optical communications, military and medical applications.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has entered into a cooperative research and development agreement with AIM Photonics that is intended to give chip developers a critical new tool for designing faster chips that use both optical and electrical signals to transmit information.

Integrated photonic circuits are key components in fiber-optic networks and high-performance computing facilities and are used in such diverse applications as laser-guided missiles, medical sensors and other advanced technologies.

AIM Photonics, a Manufacturing USA institute, is a public-private partnership that accelerates the commercialization of new technologies for manufacturing photonic chips. The New York-based institute provides small and medium-sized businesses and academic and government researchers access to expertise and fabrication facilities during all phases of the photonics development cycle, from design to fabrication and packaging.

‘Calibration structures’

As part of the collaboration, NIST will design electrical “calibration structures” that can be used to measure and test the electronic performance of the chips. This will result in improved designs for photonic chips that operate at speeds up to 110 gigahertz (GHz). Most current photonic chips operate at around 25 GHz.

“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. And while 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,” Locascio said. In addition, AIM Photonics will incorporate these calibration structures into its process design kit, a tool that engineers use when designing new chips for fabrication at AIM’s facilities.

“Accurate measurements are key to advancing high-speed communications,” said David Harame, AIM Photonics’ chief operating officer. “These enhancements will give our members and customers the tools they need to design the next generation of advanced photonic chips.”

Experts from both organizations are already working to integrate the new measurement structures into AIM Photonics’ foundry process, and an updated process design kit with the calibration structures should be available to users in approximately one year.

Photon Lines LtdJenLab GmbHLASEROPTIK GmbHCHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.Optikos Corporation DIAMOND SAMad City Labs, Inc.
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