In a bid to boost photonics manufacturing and bring more skilled, high-tech jobs to the country, as well as push the boundaries of energy efficiency and performance in computing and telecommunications, the Obama administration announced today that it has selected the American Institute for Manufacturing of Photonics (AIM Photonics) to lead research and manufacturing of integrated photonic technology and create jobs in this important area. UC Santa Barbara is leading the West Coast division of this public-private partnership, in collaboration with the State University of New York — the lead university in this institute.
In the age of the Internet and Big Data, conventional electronic technology — even with the advent of Moore’s Law, which predicts the doubling of transistors and processing power approximately every two years — will become overwhelmed by the demand for speed, performance and data capacity.
The solution to that impending demand lies in photonics, the use of light to transmit massive amounts of data at extremely high speeds. But to make the shift between electronic wires and photonic waveguides, the two technologies must be brought together.
“AIM and UC Santa Barbara are leading a revolution that is integrating photonics and electronics for the benefits of both,” said John Bowers, professor of electrical and computer engineering and of materials at UCSB, director of the campus’s Institute for Energy Efficiency (IEE) and lead of the West Coast hub of AIM. Just as photonics has enabled the fiber optic communications which led to the Internet revolution, he said, the increased data capacity, speed and energy efficiency promised by photonics integrated circuits will result in enormous gains for everything from handheld devices to personal computing to data centers. “Our goal is to use complementary metal-oxide semiconductor processing to move photonics onto silicon and accelerate the integration of photonics and eliminate the data bottleneck that advanced silicon chips are facing during the next decade,” said Bowers.
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