Imec partners with Huawei on high-bandwidth optical data link technology

Nanoelectronics research center imec and global ICT leader Huawei announced today that they have taken a further step in their strategic partnership focusing on optical data link technology. The joint research on silicon-based optical interconnects is expected to deliver benefits including high speed, low power consumption and cost savings.

Silicon photonics is a key enabling technology expected to revolutionise optical communications by paving the way for the creation of highly integrated, low power optical transceivers used for data transmission and telecommunications.

Huawei has now joined imec’s research program which focuses on optimizing bandwidth density, power consumption, thermal robustness and cost at the system level. Huawei engineers will work closely with imec’s R&D team in Leuven, Belgium, with a view to achieving technological progress in this vital area for delivering connectivity matching the needs of the Europe of tomorrow.

In 2013, Huawei acquired photonics company Caliopa spin-off from imec and UGent, thereby adding silicon photonics research to its European R&D portfolio. Delivering on its commitment of boosting Caliopa’s development, Huawei has been investing in its human resources and infrastructure, prompting it to move offices to keep step with its rapid growth.

“This is an important next step in our collaboration with Huawei on silicon photonics. This collaboration, together with Huawei’s recent acquisition of our spin-off Caliopa that focuses on developing silicon photonics-based optical transceivers for the telecommunications industry, shows that our silicon photonics research is important for advancing next-generation high-bandwidth ICT solutions,” stated Luc Van den hove, president and CEO at imec.“We expect this partnership to give a further boost to our silicon photonics research over the coming years.”

“Having acquired cutting-edge expertise in the field of silicon photonics thanks to our acquisition of Caliopa last year, this partnership with imec is the logical next move towards next-generation optical communication. By combining our strengths in this strategic area, we can deliver ICT innovation that translates into value for businesses and consumers in Europe and beyond,” said Hudson Liu, CEO at Huawei Belgium.

Imec’s role as a global leader in the field of silicon electronics, combined with Caliopa’s expertise in this field – leveraged by Huawei’s global reach – make this new partnership a strategic advantage for all sides.

Thanks to Huawei’s global platform and network, the company can bring silicon photonics research results to the market, effectively speeding up the commercialisation of its products. This means creating a win-win situation where R&D success translates into industrial achievement: the expertise achieved in Belgium will make a direct contribution to improving communications technology at a global level.

The collaboration further deepens Huawei’s engagement with the European research ecosystem in pursuit of its strategy to build a better-connected Europe by investing in local talent. The announcement follows the recent purchase of Internet of Things pioneering company Neul in the UK, the launch of an innovation centre in Walldorf, Germany, and the opening of an R&D site in Sophia Antipolis, France.

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