PICs use a laser source to inject light that drives the components, similar to turning on a switch to inject electricity that drives electronic components. In essence, PICs use photons rather than electrons to process and distribute information. In a photonic chip, photons pass through optical components such as waveguides, lasers, polarizers, and phase shifters.
Using light instead of electricity, integrated photonic technology provides a solution to the limitations of electronics like integration and heat generation, taking devices to the next level, the so-called “more than Moore” concept to increase capacity and speed of data transmission. PICs offer advantages such as miniaturization, higher speed, low thermal effects, large integration capacity, and compatibility with existing processing flows that allow for high yield, volume manufacturing, and lower prices. Applications for integrated photonics are broad – from data communications and sensing to the automotive industry and the field of astronomy.