In the last decade, Silicon Photonics has been a rapidly growing field fueled by the promise of highly scalable, ultra-low power, high bandwidth and low cost silicon based optical communication systems. The last few years have seen the emergence of several dedicated world-class research groups, a dedicated international conference, heavy investments by the semiconductor industry giants, multiple private equity funded start-ups, as well as dedicated multi-user foundry services. Nevertheless, several critical roadblocks remain that have so far prevented the field from displacing older optical technologies, the resolution of which presents extremely challenging scientific challenges, requiring highly innovative devices and system architectures as well as bleeding edge process development. In a nutshell, state-of-the-art Silicon Photonics remains marginally too expensive for ultra-short distance links, too low performance for long haul communications, and still has too high a power consumption to displace electrical interconnects at the circuit board level. It is the goal of this proposal to reach three key milestones that in the applicant’s opinion are critical enablers for the field on its path towards becoming a truly disruptive technology.
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