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Build a global silicon photonics R&D center
PCB News
Build a global silicon photonics R&D center

Build a global silicon photonics R&D center


Silicon Photonic Chip Industry Chain
Shanghai lays out research on silicon-based optical interconnection chips to build a silicon photonic chip industry chain

   Last year, the Shanghai Municipal Government included silicon photonics in the first batch of major municipal-level special projects, and invested a lot of money in the development and production of silicon-based optical interconnect chips. Today, many people in the industry lament that Shanghai is really taking precautions because silicon-based optical interconnect chips are a new generation of communication chips, and domestic communication companies have been stuck on such devices.

   The reporter recently learned from the Municipal Science and Technology Commission that the major municipal-level silicon photonics project led by Zhangjiang Laboratory has achieved breakthroughs in process technology and has the ability to tape out optical chips. It is expected that within this year, my country's first silicon photonics R&D pilot line will be completed in Shanghai. This project aims to build a complete silicon photonic chip industry chain in Shanghai, master key core technologies, and free domestic enterprises from dependence on foreign optical chip suppliers.

   According to Yu Mingbin, the person in charge of major special technology at the municipal level of Silicon Photonics and a researcher at the Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, optical chips are in the ascendant in the world and are gradually replacing traditional electrical chips and becoming the mainstream of communication chips. Why will electrical transmission be replaced by optical transmission between chip dimensions? He explained that when a large number of electrons move in a high-density circuit, it will heat the device and generate electromagnetic losses, which affects the speed and power consumption of the chip. In contrast, the movement of light is much "lighter"-the fastest in the universe, no heat is generated during movement, and multiple rays of light can move in the same space and time and maintain their independence, thereby greatly saving signals Transmission channel.


   Because of the superior physical properties of light, in the field of communications, optical cables are replacing cables; optical chips are also beginning to replace electrical chips, realizing the transmission of optical signals on silicon-based materials. At present, the industrialization of optical chips is still at an early stage, and there are only a few optical chip suppliers in the world, all in the United States.

   In 2015, Wang Xi, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and director of Zhangjiang Laboratory, learned about the research and development of silicon photonics at the Singapore Institute of Microelectronics (IME). IME is a global R&D center for integrated circuit common technology with the same name as the Belgian Microelectronics Research Center (IMEC). Both of these units have built a silicon photonics R&D pilot line, attracting R&D institutions and companies from various countries to test and stream films there. At that time, Wang Xi had an idea: Shanghai Institute of Microtechnology Industry will also build a silicon photonics R&D pilot line and become another R&D center in the world.

   After demonstrating this idea, the Municipal Science and Technology Commission proposed that Shanghai should form a complete silicon-based optical interconnect chip industry chain and build a world-class silicon photonics base. Last year, Silicon Photonics was included in the first batch of major municipal projects.

   Build the entire industrial chain of silicon photonic chips

   Today, my country's first silicon photonics R&D pilot line is under construction. The 8-inch "Beyond Moore" R&D pilot line that opened in Shanghai's Jiading District in September last year is part of it, and the other part of the equipment is still in the procurement process. It is expected that within this year, the silicon photonics equipment of the "Beyond Moore" R&D pilot line will be put into operation. The so-called "beyond Moore" means that non-digital and diversified semiconductor technologies and products can be developed on mature process production lines without following Moore's Law, that is, there is no need to make the process size smaller and smaller.

   Time does not wait. Although some equipment is not yet in place, Yu Mingbin has already begun to lead the team to develop supporting process technology. "Equipment is hardware, and process technology can be regarded as software." Yu Mingbin told reporters, "In the process of purchasing hardware, we must pay close attention to the development of software. After the hardware is in place, the silicon photonics R&D pilot line can immediately provide services to customers. "The other good news is that he found a partner through personal connections and used a process production line to develop optical chips. This production line has been successfully taped out and is serving some customers. After the silicon photonics R&D pilot line is put into operation, Shanghai Institute of Micro-Technology will have the ability to serve a large number of customers.

   Gan Pin, deputy director of the Municipal Science and Technology Commission, introduced that the major silicon photonics project is led by Zhangjiang Laboratory and a group of domestic enterprises, universities and research institutes participate. Break through the common key technologies of silicon-based optical interconnection chips and devices, so as to attract resources from all parties, and strive to make Shanghai an important source of new technological inventions and new directions in the strategic field of silicon-based optoelectronics.

 "We want to build a whole industry chain in Shanghai, including chip design, manufacturing, packaging, testing and other links." Yu Mingbin said. According to reports, Shanghai companies undertaking major special industrial chain downstream sub-projects all have sales indicators. For example, Shanghai Guibo Communication Technology Co., Ltd.’s indicators are: replacing imported silicon photonic chips, with annual sales of 100 million US dollars, and cost and process superior Traditional technology. In this regard, Guibo's project team is very confident, because the global optical chip market is in the ascendant and demand is in short supply. The current price of each wafer is as high as 15,000 US dollars. If you have mastered the key core technologies of the industry chain, you don't need to worry about market performance.

   In addition to communications, optical chips can also be used in frontier projects with huge development potential such as lidar, parallel computing, large-scale optical switches, and three-dimensional optoelectronic integration, and become core components in fields such as autonomous driving, new-generation computers, and ultra-high-definition televisions. With the advancement of major municipal-level silicon photonics projects, Shanghai is expected to produce a series of results. Wang Xi said that the special team will implement major special projects from a global perspective by establishing an efficient project management mechanism, strengthening strategic planning and research, and further opening up coordination and other measures to implement major special projects from a global perspective, and build Shanghai into a world-class silicon photonics base as soon as possible.

The above is an introduction to the research on Shanghai's layout of silicon-based optical interconnection chips and the creation of a silicon photonic chip industry chain. Ipcb also provides PCB manufacturers and PCB manufacturing technology