Offered as the world’s first silicon photonics (SiPho) process with integrated quantum dot lasers, the platform is designed to address optical connectivity in artificial intelligence/machine learning and disaggregated computing (datacenter) markets. The new foundry process will build upon Tower’s industry-leading PH18 production silicon photonics platform and add Quintessent’s III-V quantum dot-based lasers and optical amplifiers to enable a complete suite of active and passive silicon photonic elements.
The resulting capability, say the companies, will be an industry first in demonstrating integrated optical gain in a standard foundry silicon photonics process. The initial process development kit (PDK) is planned in 2021, with multi-project wafer runs (MPWs) following in 2022.
“Quintessent and Tower are re-defining the frontiers of integrated silicon photonics under this effort,” says Dr. John Bowers, UCSB Professor and Quintessent Co-Founder. “I’m very excited by the prospects for a new class of high-performance lasers and photonic integrated circuits on silicon, leveraging the unique advantages of quantum dot materials.”
The co-integration of lasers and amplifiers with silicon photonics at the circuit element level will improve overall power efficiency, eliminate traditional design constraints such as on-chip loss budgets, simplify packaging, and make possible new product architectures and functionalities. For example, say the companies, a silicon photonic transceiver or sensor product with integrated lasers will be capable of complete self-test at the chip or wafer level.
These advantages are further enhanced by employing semiconductor quantum-dots as the active optical gain media, which enables devices with greater reliability, lower noise, and the ability to operate efficiently at higher temperatures.
“Bringing the III-V laser diode within our silicon photonics platform," says Dr. David Howard, Tower Semiconductor Executive Director, and Fellow, "will enable single-chip photonic integrated circuit (PIC) design. This means that both III-V quantum dot amplifiers and lasers, and Tower’s silicon photonics passive and active elements, will be delivered by a foundry through a single MPW chip run.”
Dr. Alan Liu, co-founder, and CEO of