Three steps to meeting photonic device demands in today’s market

Oct. 10, 2023
Photonic integrated circuits (PICs) and laser diodes have the potential to address today’s barriers—but only if they can keep pace with market demand.

New technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and more offer both opportunities and threats to our industry. From growing internet usage, increasing data center requirements, and the adoption of cloud-based and visualization products to LiDAR needs and consumer electronic drivers, market demands are placing robust pressure on the existing infrastructure, begging for resolutions to limitations.

Enter photonic integrated circuits (PICs) and laser diodes. These technologies, while offering distinct attributes, have the potential to address today’s barriers—but only if they can keep pace with market demand.

Convening experts

In early September, Optica assembled the PIC and laser diode communities in Bremen, Germany, for the Photonics Devices Industry Summit with the goal of exploring these issues. With the two communities facing similar problems—packaging, assembly, fiber-to-chip, low-cost back coupling, testing, and automation—collaboration between the two will enable a more rapid and full-scale approach to industry-wide solutions. As varied vertical markets, including industrial, LiDAR, medical, communications, and automotive, seek photonic-based answers, solving these challenges is a critical industry priority.

Three steps to success

Fortunately, the Summit served as a strong backdrop to fuel discussion of today’s needs and opportunities. Attendees debated how to best respond to increasing tensions, focusing in on three strategic steps:

1. Increase production volume and decrease time to market. The photonics industry is growing faster than technology can mature—or even be developed. There is a new demand for photonic technologies and rapid-scale production. Optical equipment manufacturers recognize these issues and are collaborating to ultimately expedite the production cycle.

2. Leverage chiplets to address data capacity and power consumption constraints. A ChatGPT search consumes six times the energy of a Google one, and as it matures, it will grow in impact, resulting in massive-scale energy use. Consider that just two months after its debut, ChatGPT went from zero daily views to nearly 30 million. We have to increase our data capacity and user power consumption, and that impact was a topic of heavy discussion at the Summit. One answer? Bring photonics and electronics really close together with chiplets. At the Summit, packaging companies and equipment manufacturers explored collaborations that will help to advance this concept, and chiplets will remain a key discussion point for the Optica community.

3. Expand photonic product recycling to support sustainability. How can we make the photonics industry more sustainable? What materials should we use? What process can we employ to remove, or at least reduce, emissions? What can we do not just for the assembly, but for the disassembly of photonics so we can recycle each material individually? These conversations are just beginning, but Optica will investigate them thoroughly.

What’s next

While the Photonics Devices Industry Summit shed light on developing production concerns and began the process of addressing them, there’s still much work to be done. So, we hope you’ll join us for the Optica Photonics Enabled Cloud Computing Summit, taking place October 24-25, 2023, in Sunnyvale, CA, where we will continue to tackle these topics from other perspectives and collectively advance new discoveries.

Because as applications continue to emerge, photonic technologies stand ready to find solutions to address them across industries. And Optica and its corporate members will be at the forefront of that evolution.

About the Author

Jose Pozo | Chief Technology Officer, Optica

Jose Pozo joined Optica in March 2022, and has spent more than 25 years working in photonics. He earned a PhD in quantum physics from the University of Bristol (U.K.), and an M.Sc. and B.Eng. in telecom engineering from UPNA, Spain / VUB (Belgium). Prior to joining the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC) in 2015 as CTO, Jose was a Senior Photonics Technology Consultant with PNO Consultants, with some of the main accounts such as CERN, Thales, and TE Connectivity. He has worked at TNO, The Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, and as a postdoctoral researcher at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, where he contributed to the early development of EFFECT Photonics.

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