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Silicon photonics adoption in UK industry -
impact by collaboration

Wednesday 11th October 2017

Silicon photonics is a rapidly evolving research field that has recently attracted a lot of interest from both academia and semiconductor industry. Utilising silicon-based material platforms and combining mature silicon processing technologies and tools from semiconductor industry, Silicon Photonics offers the most promising solutions for industrial-scale fabrication of hybrid devices in which optical and electronic components are integrated onto a single chip...


10.30 Introduction and welcome
Prof Graham Reed
SESSION 1: Chair: Dr Callum Littlejohns  
How Rockley Photonics works with academia, and why it works for us
Dr Andrew Rickman, CEO Rockley Photonics, UK

Integrated photonics is the optical analogue of integrated microelectronics. It brings with it a future of optical systems on a chip that can dramatically improve the way we communicate, process information and sense our environment.

The founders of Rockley Photonics and the Silicon Photonics team at Southampton University have been working together for over 25 years in this field. There have been two commercial successes following these activities and Rockley Photonics represents the third. We have combined our industry learning and experience over this long period to create a silicon photonics platform well suited for a wide range of applications, and for a timely arrival in the market, catching the cloud computing and IoT growth waves.  These optical communication and sensor markets need photonic integration and miniaturization to drive performance and volume cost advantages to dramatically scale to ubiquitous mass deployment similar to microelectronics.

To achieve our vision a strong focus on advanced research and development is required, and Southampton University ORC is a world leader in the silicon photonics field supporting the addition of advanced functional elements in our platform and continuing to extend the competitiveness and applications of the platform. The partnership has been recognised by the financial support from EPSRC in the recently awarded Prosperity Partnership - the first program of its kind in the UK to support successful, long-term academic/industrial relationships.

11.10 The Cornerstone Project: UK Silicon Photonics Fabrication Capability based on DUV Photolithography
Dr Stevan Stankovic, University of Southampton, UK

Supporting intensive research efforts in the rapidly-expanding field of silicon photonics, a number of multi-project wafer (MPW) services are available worldwide, mostly offered by industrial or professional research fabs. However, none of these offer the variety of SOI platforms and flexibility that is essential for research.

The CORNERSTONE project (Capability for OptoelectRoNics, mEtamateRialS, nanoTechnOlogy, aNd sensing) is an EPSRC-funded collaboration between The University of Southampton, The University of Glasgow and The University of Surrey, that aims to establish a silicon photonics fabrication capability that can support photonics research in the UK and beyond, while offering the flexibility that currently available MPW services lack.

Within this project, a deep-ultraviolet (DUV) 248nm scanner, the first of its kind in UK academia, was installed at The University of Southampton. Using this equipment, CORNERSTONE will offer a multi-project wafer (MPW) service on several silicon-on-insulator (SOI) platforms (220 nm, 340 nm & 500 nm) for both passive and active photonic devices. We also offer chip-level e-beam processing via Glasgow and Southampton while ion implantation for active devices is provided by The University of Surrey.

To date, the CORNERSTONE MPW service has organised 3 calls for passive devices, with the first call for active devices currently live. The foundry service is free of charge to UK universities, until completion of the project. Design rules can be found on the CORNERSTONE website, with the deadline for mask submission on Friday 1st December 2017.

11.30 Dielectric photonics as a technology for next generation LAN-WDM
Dr Bill Ring, BB Photonics, UK

Photonic integration and reduction in package cost are essential requirements for next generation LAN-WDM components. Today, discrete bulk type optic devices are used to perform the multiplexing and de-multiplexing function within these packages. To reduce cost either integration in the III-V semiconductor device or using silicon photonics platform are the current preferred approaches today.

BB Photonics (A subsidiary of Poet Technologies) has been working extensively in the last couple of years on high speed integrated semiconductor devices and application of dielectric integration with a goal to enable athermal devices and lower cost packaging solutions

In this talk we will discuss the development of dielectric photonics to enable low loss coupling to single mode fiber, integrated wavelength functionality and as a package platform for new lower cost components.

11.50 Silicon Photonics and UK industry strategy
Dr John Lincoln, CEO Photonics Leadership Group, UK

The UK industrial strategy published in January 2017 sets out the government’s approach to growing UK industry and addressing challenges to the economy for the foreseeable future.  Given the influence on science, technology and industry support, the strategy will have long term impact on photonics and the growth of silicon photonics in the UK.  Alongside the key components of the industry strategy, the prospects for, hurdles and impact of securing a sector deal for photonics will be discussed.

The industry strategy challenge fund is a key element of the UK industry strategy with up to £2bn a year in additional funding by 2020.  Clearly articulating the challenges faced by industry that will open major new markets for UK companies are key to accessing this funding. Silicon photonics has many challenges, but can they be articulate in a publicly accessible strap-line?   Is the impact on the UK economy going to greatest from globally located mega datacentres, financial trading, healthcare or even autonomous cars?

12.10 400G and beyond: the role of silicon photonics in high speed optics
Tony Pearson, Finisar Corporation, USA
  Continuing demands to improve cost, power, and density over discrete singlemode implementations are driving the use of silicon photonics for optical modules at 100G and higher speeds, targeting intermediate link reaches (500 meters to 2 km). After years of incubation, development and trials, we are beginning to see the use of silicon photonics in mainstream commercial deployments for products like 100G-PSM4 in data centers. We expect this trend to continue for 400G-PSM4 (500 m) and 400G-FR4 (2 km). It is, however, prudent to keep the larger perspective in mind – silicon photonics is only one of the various ways of implementing an optical module, and it isn’t an ideal solution for all link types. For shorter reaches (less than 100 m), VCSEL- based multimode modules offer a much better cost, power and density than silicon photonics. Optical module vendors who maintain this technology-agnostic perspective, invest in multiple technologies, and maintain vertical integration will be best positioned to serve the needs of this market in the future.”

12.30 Conclusion and close of morning session.
12.40 POSTER SESSION | Lunchtime Break
Two poster prizes will be awarded for the best poster - technical committee choice and attendee choice.
SESSION 2: Chair: Dr Callum Littlejohns  
Nanoscale epitaxy: enabling III-Von Silicon
Prof Diana Huffaker, Director of the Institute for Compound Semiconductors, UK

Monolithic III-V devices on silicon or silicon-on-insulator (SOI) platforms is a crucial
requirement in the field of chip-scale optical interconnects. Direct growth of III-V
nanostructures is considered as a promising alternative, as nanoscale interface between the nanowire and silicon effectively reduces the strain and enables the growth of high-quality material despite a huge lattice mismatch. In this presentation, we will consider several geometries in the III-As, P, Sb and N materials systems spanning VIS-LWIR. We will also overview the most promising bulk approaches to realize efficient optoelectronic devices on the Si/SOI platform.

14.20 Silicon photonics - a gateway to the digitisation of society
Richard Pitwon, Seagate Systems (UK) Ltd

The commercial proliferation of silicon photonics technologies to provide accelerated high performance optical interconnect is now underway with photonic integrated circuit (PIC) products emerging in higher volume applications such as optical data centre interconnect. The broad range of photonic processing functionalities that can now be incorporated at the chip level including transceiver, switching, wavelength discrimination and sensors will be instrumental in accommodating the robust, high volume, high performance, distance agnostic connectivity requirements that are central to the “Internet of Things”, whereby vast amounts of data are collected from geographically diverse locations and processed in data centres to create valuable information. We report on the latest advances in system embedded photonic interconnect in future data centre environments, which will seek to deploy advanced silicon photonics in compute, storage and switch networks.

14.40 Practical quantum-dot lasers monolithically grown on silicon for silicon photonics
Professor Huiyun Liu, University College London, UK
  Silicon photonics have the potential to improve the interchip connection by using photons to replace electrons, which copper interconnection has higher energy consumption and lower transmission speed. However, silicon-based opto-electronic integration circuit need an efficient light source emitter due to silicon bulk has indirect band gap. III-V semiconductor compounds have superior optical properties. By using monolithic integration method, high-quality III-V laser diodes could able to monolithically grown on silicon. The obstacles of III-V materials grown on silicon are large material dissimilarities. In the last 10 years, the growth of III-V quantum dots – compound semiconductor nanosized crystals - on silicon substrates has been developed at UCL. The new growth techniques have been developed for the formation of III-V buffer layers grown directly on silicon substrates. We demonstrated the first practical silicon-based laser diode with lasing up to 120 oC, with a low threshold current density 62.5 A/cm2, a high output power exceeding 105 mW at RT, and a long extrapolated lifetime of over 100,158 hours. These results are a major step towards silicon-based photonics and photonic-electronic integration, and provide a route towards cost-effective monolithic integration of III-V devices on silicon platform.  

15.00 Don’t forget the electronics – considerations for highly integrated silicon photonics devices
Christian Rookes, HiLight Semiconductor Ltd, UK

As silicon photonics develops towards its promise to deliver highly integrated optical devices that enable faster data rates, higher port densities and lower power consumption then we should also need to consider the preceding transmit and proceeding receive electronics that will be interfacing to or integrated with the silicon photonics optics. Some considerations include: process technology, RF performance, parasitic electrical effects, power consumption, scalability and cost.
Too often the design of optical emitters and receivers focuses primarily on achieving the desired optical performance whilst the interface to critical companion electronics is neglected or left to an afterthought. This presentation will outline the key electronic functions required in an optical communications transceiver and the design and technology development considerations needed to ensure optimum performance is achieved in highly integrated silicon photonics devices.

15.20 The evolution of photonics packaging
Bob Musk, Entroptix Ltd, UK


Photonics packaging started with a very humble beginning, the simple phototransistor. However, over the past decades, demands for higher speeds, enhanced functionality, and reliability have driven the development of improved photonics packaging technology. Today's Photonic Integrated Circuits are now pushing the boundaries for photonics packaging with ever increasing numbers of electrical connections, optical interfaces, and very high speeds. Photonics packaging has typically been the most significant element of cost for a product due to the materials and assembly techniques employed. This is recognised and new approaches are now being developed to address this. The presentation will outline the background and evolution of photonics packaging from its inception through to the challenges of the present day and into the future.

15.40 Concluding comments and poster awards by Professor Sir David Payne
15:50 End of meeting.  

The 2017 Conference and Industry Programme, run by Enlighten Meetings with its partners, covers application and technology advances, innovations and emerging technologies.

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Dr Callum Littlejohns (Chair)
Optoelectonics Research Centre, University of Southampton, UK

Stephen Duffy
Optocap Ltd, Livingston, UK

Prof Michael Lebby, Lightwave
Logic Inc, Colorado, USA

Dr Wyn Meredith
Compound Semiconductor Centre (CSC), Cardiff, UK

Prof Graham Reed
Silicon Photonics and Group Leader, University of Southampton, UK

Prof Alwyn Seeds
Professor of Opto-electronics,
University College London, UK