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Silicon Photonics: The Future Development Direction of Optical Communication

Number of visits: Date:2018-3-29 10:26


Silicon photonics (SiP) is an exciting technology based on silicon and silicon-based substrate materials (such as SiGe/Si, SOI, etc.), which uses the existing CMOS technology to develop and integrate new generation technologies of optical devices. It is a disruptive technology to deal with the failure of Moore's law in combination with the ultra-large scale of integrated circuit technology, the characteristics of ultra-high precision manufacturing and the advantages of ultra-high speed and ultra-low power consumption. This combination is due to the extensibility of semiconductor wafer fabrication, thus reducing costs.

The architecture of silicon photonics is mainly composed of a silicon laser, silicon-based optoelectronic integrated chip, active optical components and optical fiber packaging. When using the technology of chip, electric current flows from the computing core to convert module and signal emission by photoelectric conversion for optical signals to the circuit boards laid the superfine fiber, a chip to another and then convert to electrical signals.

SiP can realize the low-cost and scale-production optical connection that will fundamentally change the whole optical component and module industry. In the next 3-5 years, the condition won't happen. But SiP technology could prove disruptive in the next decade. The integration of optical connections based on silicon photonics and electronic ASIC, optical switches, or new quantum computing devices will open up a vast frontier of innovation.

In terms of the silicon photonics technology that realizes optical transmission on silicon wafers, the speed of commercial use and R & D has exceeded expectations. Among them, Japan's progress is particularly remarkable. Japan leads the world in the miniaturization of high density integration technology and modulator, and the results of CMOS compatible luminescence technology as well as photonic crystal development have also shocked the whole world. The application of silicon photonic technology is expected to expand from the current main use of data transmission between circuit boards to the transmission of chips to chips.

By 2022, the silicon photonic transceiver market is expected to exceed $2 billion, accounting for more than 20 percent of the global optical transceiver market. In terms of shipments, the silicon photonic transceivers will account for less than 2.5 percent of total optical transceiver shipments by 2022. Most of these products will be high-end products –100G or above, so the pricing is relatively high.

sales of sip products

This seems to be contrary to the expectations of many industry experts, who hopes that the silicon photonics will be able to achieve a cheap and mass-produced optical connection and replace the existing InP and GaAs platforms. However, if the main advantage of the SiP is integration, it will be the most suitable technology for complex high-end devices that require a lot of integration. In the next decade or two, discrete, 2X and 4X integrated products (combining two or four optical functions into a single emitter or receiver) will continue to rely on InP and GaAs technologies. In fact, the United States took the lead in integrated optical fields such as InP also the achievements of the world. Due to silicon cannot directly produce laser, there is a weak compared with InP materials, its commercial pace also fell after the InP material device. Optical integration must be the development direction of optical components, various optical integration technology is hard to say the future three to five years will be what kind of breakthrough, so silicon photonic energy in alternative remains to be seen how much success.

But in the eyes of supporters, the silicon photonics is almost the only option for optical communication to integration. On the one hand, the silicon photonics technology has gone too far, especially in the United States, Intel released the 100G silicon photonics transceiver on IDF to shock the industry, which has been regarded as a revolutionary breakthrough in the history of silicon photonics.

On the other hand, many new applications of silicon photonics, including high-performance computers, telecommunications, sensors, life sciences, and quantum computing, can be used. In addition, there are two emerging applications that are particularly interesting for silicon photonics, aimed at the application of automatic car driving radar (Lidar), and biochemistry as well as chemical sensors, are available from the integrated benefits of optical function and further miniaturization. And the silicon photonic chip will be far beyond the copper wiring capability, and its solution is expected to be deployed in a high-speed signal transmission system. The technology is expected to be more widely used in applications such as interconnection multi-core and processor chips by 2025 and later. At the chip level, the market is expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2025.

With the help of Intel and IBM, silicon optics will soon become ubiquitous in the field of data centers and supercomputers. But the technology is hard to come by in the consumer sector: smart devices and PCs don't need so many chips, and they don't have to be able to transmit optical signals between them. The new technology will influence our lives in indirect ways: the rapid growth of the future performance of the cloud computing platform can provide better and faster information service for ordinary users, among which the silicon optical technology will be playing an important role. Until the semiconductor process reaches the physical limit, silicon optics will be responsible for filling the void and extending Moore's law as far as possible before the revolutionary new computer is available.

TypeInfo: Blog Articles

Keywords for the information:silicon photonics  SiP