Silicon-foundry-based photonic integrated circuit (PIC) platforms

Silicon-foundry-based photonic integrated circuit (PIC) platforms (clockwise from upper left): optomechanic platform with through-wafer etching for inertial sensors, silicon-nitride waveguides for visible-wavelength applications, conventional silicon PIC platform, and hybrid pick-and-place integration of compound-semiconductor devices onto a silicon-nitride waveguide interposer, courtesy of MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

We’ve come to expect the Internet – the wired and wireless networks linking our virtual lives and more and more of our real-world things – will keep pace with the growing demands we place on it.  Not only keep pace, but to continue to get ever faster. For more than 40 years, the semiconductor-based electronics industry has held up this promise. Electronic microchips transmit information within and between other chips using electricity – the flow of electrons.  But this technology is now reaching its physical limits in terms of bandwidth and power.  

Imagine replacing heat-dissipating electrons with massless high-speed photons – particles of light, moving at the ultimate speed of the universe. Imagine using photons to transmit high-bandwidth signals with low power consumption. Even better, imagine creating photonic integrated circuits – electron and photon-based chips that process and transmit light the way current microchips process and transmit electrical signals. What new applications will emerge?   

This is the high-capacity, data-driven future economy the MIT-based AIM Academy is building toward. The Academy brings cutting-edge knowledge for the design and manufacture of photonic integrated circuits to a broad range of audiences, from elementary school students to professionals from multi-national companies, by offering education packages and programs, internship and summer learning opportunities, certification training, and more.

It is also building a roadmap to chart the transformative impact of integrated photonics, as this maturing technology expands and extends the applications and successes of the electronics industry. 

In 2020, the Academy began working across many advanced manufacturing technologies, and is set to help establish America as a global leader in high-tech manufacturing.