Photonics integration coming

BY PETE SINGER, Editor-in-Chief

Increasingly, the ability to stay on the path defined my Moore’s Law will depend on advanced packaging and heterogeneous integration, including photonics integration.

At The ConFab in May, Bill Bottoms, chair of the integrated photonics technical working group, and co-chair of the heterogeneous integration roadmap (HIR) spoke about the changing nature of the industry and specifically the needs of photonic integration.

Bottoms said the driving force behind photonics integration is pretty straightforward: “The technology we have today can’t keep up with the expanding generation of transport and storage of data,” he said. But doing so will be a challenge.

The integration of photonics, electronics and plasmonics at a system level is necessary.

“These require heteroge- neous integration by architecture, by device type, by materials and by manufacturing processes,” Bottoms said. “We’re changing the way we’re doing things.”
These kinds of changes are best thought of not as packaging but system level integration. “As we move the photons as close as to the transistors as possible, we’re going to be faced with integrating everything on a simple substrate,” he said.

There are a large number of devices that involve photons which share the common requirement of providing a photon path either into or out of the package or both. They include: Light emitting diodes (LEDs), laser diodes, plasmonic photon emitters, photonic Integrated circuits (PICs), MEMS optical switching devices, camera modules, optical modulators, active optical cables, E to O and O to E converters, optical sensors (photo diodes and other types), and WDM multiplexers and de‐multi- plexers. Many of these devices have unique thermal, electrical and mechanical characteristics that will require specialized materials and system integration (packaging) processes and equipment, Bottoms noted.

Of the biggest challenges might be thermal management: “We have things that make a lot of heat and things that can’t have their temperature change by more than a degree without losing their functionality,” Bottoms said.

The scope of the HIR Photonics Chapter includes defining difficult challenges and, where possible, potential solutions associated with: data systems and the global network, photonic components, integrating these components and subsystems into systems with the smallest size, lowest weight, smallest volume, lowest power and highest performance.

It will also address supply chain requirements, which may turn out to be the biggest challenge. “We will not beat the challenge of cost pressures unless we develop the supply chain that can justify high volume. It’s the only way we know how to bring down costs,” Bottoms said. Sounds like a great opportunity for today’s equipment and materials suppliers to me!

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One thought on “Photonics integration coming

  1. Reynier Funke

    1985? I really chuckle when I read an article like this… it could have been written in the years I finished my MSc. in electrical engineering, topic: integrated optics, i.e. building optical and elctronic circuits on the same silicon wafer. After 30 years still “utopia”? Like “nuclear fusion” power plants? In 1985 another “hot” was videophone, well with Internet and Smartphones that seems reality now….

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