Photonics technology was invented within and proliferated by the telecommunications industry from the 1970s onwards, and in this first iteration was characterized by a manufacturing ecosystem comprised of vendors specialized in particular device components. Today, a new form of densely integrated photonics is flourishing, one that takes advantage of lithography and the planar platform of a wafer to manufacture thousands of devices, fabricated by one unique vendor, for targeted applications.
New standards and best practice methodologies are emerging to leverage fabless silicon photonics—the outsourcing of the materials science and materials processing expertise requisite for building densely integrated devices—with a dedicated foundry such as the AIM Photonics fabrication facility, located at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. In this new manufacturing paradigm, Small to Medium-scale Enterprise (SME) industry can take advantage of a critical concentration of semiconductor industry tools and expertise within a state-of-the-art fabrication facility, to produce small batch runs of application-specific products.
By channeling industry resources through a common facility, this Multi Project Wafer run (MPW) approach circumvents the overhead expense of building a dedicated cleanroom to manufacture one product. To take full advantage of this new methodology for producing complex functionality Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs) at low cost, a new workforce must consolidate the modeling and design approaches of microelectronics circuit engineering and photonic device fabrication.
AIM Photonics Academy helps industry professionals from various sectors—researchers, engineers, technician staff, management—to master these new standards and methods by making available numerous workforce training activities and a Needs Assessment Report targeted to SME goals. In addition, we’re cultivating a network of SME companies with specialized electronics or photonics expertise, localized around the I-90 corridor in Massachusetts and New York, to promote new photonics and photonics-adjacent partnerships.