Silicon Photonics: Widespread Usage on Active Components Doubtful

September, 2014

While the amount of industry chatter about silicon photonics rose substantially in 2014, partially because of certain market research firms looking to sell more reports, the technological hurdles, especially with insertion loss, make extensive use of active, combined components, such as for modulators and photodetectors, unlikely in the foreseeable future. Although there have definitely been numerous demonstrations of integrating with these CMOS fabrication processes, like with receivers, both the performance and cost are superior with standard methods. Certainly for passive devices, silicon lends itself quite well to integration, including for AWGs. Instead of using micro optics, combining waveguides with attenuators is being accomplished with Si. With 100G receivers, the delay lines are being integrated with the phase combiners with either silicon or Indium Phosphide. Given the increas ...

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Silicon Photonics’ Shift: Still Cost/Loss Issues

March, 2016

The lead article in the September 1969 issue of the Bell System Technical Journal was written by Stewart E. Miller, entitled “Integrated Optics: An Introduction,” which framed “a proposal for a miniature laser beam circuitry" along with the promise of “economy should ultimately result.” Close to a half of a century later, even with a severe bastardization of the original definition in recent times, as the electronics have been excluded from the chip (even Luxtera had to abandon its vision of “CMOS photonics” at 100-gig), challenges remain with expensive cost along with poor performance. While perhaps the best way to characterize Silicon Photonics (SP) today is the use of a continuous wave light source and a modulator in Si, as opposed to integrated optics (passive AWGs or PLCs), the concept of light going into a waveguide with SP, and pulling it out, results in an incredibly high Inserti ...

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