The research team at Seattle’s University of Washington is developing design tools and utilizing nanofabrication tools to develop advanced silicon-based photonic chips. The project, called the Optoelectronic Systems Integration in Silicon, is being funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
The size, power, rapid cycle time, weight, program risk reduction and the enhancement silicon optical chips provide in lasers, detectors and data communications, makes the chips a vital tool in the U.S. army.
Michael Hochberg, the program lead and in charge of the Nanophotonics Lab, stated through the support of AFOSR and the Air Force Research Laboratory, the research team was able to get the required resources to get the project started. The funds also provided technical validation.
At BAE Systems infrastructure, the UW researchers are developing advanced manufacturing capabilities by focusing on system validation and design that will ensure a smooth transition from photonics to systems and be accessible to technology companies and researchers. Lack of funds and standard processes made complex photonics circuitry inaccessible to scientists.
With the developments and insight gained through the OpSIS program, it will be possible to bring silicon-based photonic cells within the reach of research groups and startup companies. Hochberg stated that the OpSIS program will provide design support, design rules and design-flow development to non-experts well, so that the integration of photonics and electronics becomes an easy process.
Currently, the research team plans on conducting test runs for the advanced optical chips to determine its commercial uses and further develop software devices that will make the process of design and development easier.