Silicon Photonics – Promise & Challenge
Silicon photonics allows us, for the first time, to build computer chips that move information with light as well as electricity. Over the past several years, there has been an explosion in the complexity of silicon photonic systems-on-chip. The processes needed to build complex photonic circuits in silicon are, however, not accessible to the research community due to high cost and a lack of standard, repeatable processes.
The OpSIS program aims to solve this problem by providing inexpensive and reliable access to silicon
photonic multi-project wafers, and by developing tools and methodologies to enable rapid and reliable system design.
OpSIS (Optoelectronic Systems Integration in Silicon) is a multi-project wafer service for silicon photonics. Our goal at OpSIS is to make the processes for making optoelectronic integrated circuits available to the community at large, at modest cost, by sharing the cost of processing across many users of a single mask set. This model – called a “shuttle” – can reduce costs of building new silicon photonics devices by more than 100x. The OpSIS program will help advance the field by bringing prototyping capability within reach of startups and academic research groups.
OpSIS will provide design rules, device design support, and assistance with design-flow development so that even non-specialists can design and build functioning chips that integrate photonics and electronics. OpSIS will coordinate regular shuttle runs and manage the relationships with foundry partners.
OpSIS is loosely based on the model pioneered by MOSIS, the original and highly successful electronic integrated circuit foundry service, which was founded in 1981.