In 2010, Intel developed a product called Intel Silicone Photonics to create optical devices out of silicon that use photons (light) to move data at very high speeds with game-changingly low power usage over optical fibers. But while this was a major step forward, they haven’t come close to making the technology “ready for prime time.”
This month, IBM announced the first “on package” silicon photonic chip that will be connected to a standard CPU processing package. IBM will demonstrate the technology later this month. The purpose is to integrate silicon photonic chips with current silicon processor chips without the need for “transceiver assemblies.”
How the US is Gearing Up to Compete in Photonics
Around the world, there are a growing number manufacturers associations creating photonics clusters to help promote the field and to discuss how it will affect the industry in the years ahead.
2015 has been designated the International Year of Light & Light-Based Technologies or Light2015 by the United Nations, and events and activities are occurring worldwide.
In the US, the following organizations have the pedal to the medal:
- The Department of Defense Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IMI) has issued a report.
- The National Photonics Initiative is bringing together industry, academia and government to advance photonics, which is considered key to US competitiveness and national security.
- The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) has been creating public/private partnerships through a network of research institutes to help develop and commercialize the technology.
- The National Technology Roadmap for Photonics (NTRP), funded by NIST, is creating roadmaps in five areas of photonics: optics, lasers, imaging/sensing, displays, and biophotonics.
- The Photonic Systems Manufacturing Consortium (PSMC), also funded by NIST, is developing a roadmap for integrated photonic systems manufacturing.
- The Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IMI) is a regional hub of manufacturing organizations from industry, universities, community colleges, federal agencies and states, which invests in research in photonics related manufacturing technology, ideas on developing shared infrastructure and knowledge, and educational and training programs in advanced manufacturing skills for students and workers.
- The College of Optics & Photonics at the University of Central Florida (CREOL) has created the Multi-material Integrated Micro Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (MI3), focusing on advanced manufacturing including photonic integrated circuits, devices, systems, packaging, reliability and testing.
While a bit dated, the following video explains what all the hype is about: