Electronic and photonic circuits can be used together to increase efficiency. Combining them enables advances in integration and bandwidth, which is crucial as electronic circuits approach their integration capacity limit due to heat generated by electric components. This limitation directly affects Moore's Law, which states that the number of components on a chip double about every 24 months. Hence, technology has advanced to a “more than Moore” stage in which the objective is the improvement of cost /performance while adding functionality through materials integration and 3-D structures. In this arena, SiPh and material platforms such as InP, Indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs), and silicon-germanium (SiGe), are playing a role. For example, photonic circuits can be hybrid or monolithically integrated with electronic circuits to increase product performance with lower energy consumption, low heat generation, and increased speed.
To facilitate broad adoption at acceptable costs, high volume manufacturing of photonic components is needed. SiPh is a material platform processed at the physical level, meaning that the SiPh components will be densely integrated into a chip and will be fabricated at a high volume (millions to billions of units). The chip will then be interconnected with the electronic chip via interposers or Through Silicon Vias ( TSVs) and further assembled into more complex boards. These complex boards may incorporate electronic and optical drivers in a hybrid fashion, along with other chips of different material platforms. The boards will then be packaged, making them ready as a prototype or for volume production as an off-the-shelf commercial product.
SiPh is increasingly used in optical datacom, sensing, biomedical, automotive, astronomy, aerospace, AR/VR and AI applications. Other SiPh application areas are in development, such as integrated LiDAR chips for autonomous vehicles, agricultural and biomedical sensors, lab-on-chip for inexpensive disposable testing, integrated Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) solutions, AI chips for data handling, and integrated chips for aerospace applications.