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Silicon photonics in vogue at comms expo

28 Mar 2013

Imec and Kotura reveal new silicon photonics technical developments and business partnerships at OFC/NFOEC 2013.

OFC/NFOEC 2013, the annual optical fiber communications and technologies expo and conference held in Anaheim, Ca, US, earlier this month showcased some notable developments in the rapidly growing field of silicon photonics.

Nanotechnology research specialist organization Imec announced it is now offering a “fully integrated silicon photonics platform in a multi-project wafer (MPW) service”.

Meanwhile Si-photonics innovator Kotura announced it has established a fabless semiconductor model and strengthened its supply chain.

Imec's new platform will operate via a cost-sharing MPW service with ePIXfab, the European Silicon Photonics Platform co-funded by the EU. The platform is intended to enable cost-effective R&D of silicon photonic ICs for high-performance optical transceivers (25Gbit/s and above) and optical sensing and life science applications.

Available integrated components include low-loss waveguides, efficient grating couplers, high-speed silicon electro-optic modulators and high-speed germanium waveguide photo-detectors.

Since 2007, Imec and its associated laboratory at Ghent University have been offering a platform for passive silicon photonic components via ePIXfab, for R&D under shared cost conditions.

Now Imec has extended its silicon photonics offering, using a standard 130nm CMOS toolset, with active components such as high-speed optical modulators and integrated germanium photo-detectors.

Philippe Absil, Imec’s Program Director, commented, “Our silicon photonics platform provides robust performance and solutions to integrated photonics products in medical diagnostics, telecom and datacom industries.

"Companies can benefit from our silicon photonics capability through established standard cells, or explore the functionality of their own designs in MPW. This Si-photonics MPW offer provides a cost-efficient solution, with state-of-the-art performance, design flexibility and superior CD and thickness control.”

Kotura establishes fabless semiconductor model

Coincident with the Imec announcement, Kotura, Inc. announced an agreement with a large semiconductor foundry and new working relationships with strategic partners: semiconductor solutions provider Mindspeed Technologies and laser supplier BinOptics. Kotura says the partnerships will provide an effective supply chain to commercialize its 100G Optical Engine, which is a key component in its newly-launched 100 Gb/s 4x25 WDM, QSFP+ module.

The company said the addition of a large Japanese foundry will complement Kotura's existing in-house fab. Kotura will leverage the capabilities of the outside foundry partner for high-volume production of the Optical Engine. Kotura claims to be the only silicon photonics provider to offer both Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) and a parallel version of its Optical Engine in a 3.5W QSFP package.

Jean-Louis Malinge, Kotura president and CEO, commented, "Our silicon photonics solutions resolve price, performance and reliability issues not currently being addressed. There is tremendous opportunity for silicon photonics to heed the call, starting with the data center market as our primary target. This foundry partnership offers Kotura the fastest and most reliable path to mass production and the ability to scale to meet this demand."

Kotura partnered with BinOptics to develop laser arrays, which can be passively flip-chip bonded onto Kotura's Optical Engine, producing a high-volume, low-cost, electronics-style assembly.

Alex Behfar, CEO and co-founder, BinOptics, said, "Our Etched Facet Technology allows III-V photonic device facets to be formed with lithographic precision, enabling low-cost passive alignment with silicon photonics. Eliminating active alignment is one of the key ingredients for economical, large-scale rollout of silicon photonics based 100 Gb/s solutions."

About the Author

Matthew Peach is a contributing editor to optics.org.

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