Photonics is a strategic focus area for the semiconductor industry.
Photonics has been around for a long time but with limited application due to the complexity of building devices able to reliably detect, emit and/or process photons in a controlled and predictable fashion. Most devices were bulky, consumed significant amounts of power and were only capable of performing a single function (e.g. detecting only). Applications were in the long-haul telecommunications and military. Today photonics technology has grown significantly more sophisticated putting “Photonics Integrated Circuits” or PICs on the roadmap: integrated circuits with detection, processing and emission on the same die. Manufacturing is trying to shift to a “CMOS-like” eco-system where a COT-type interface should make manufacturing more predictable and more affordable (as compared to each company building its own manufacturing line). This requires a lot of different wheels to turn and align, ranging from predictable processes, established PCMs, process blue books, simulation models and EDA PDKs all the way to regular shuttles allowing the development of (verified) IP blocks which can function as building blocks for next generation PICs