Frontiers of the American Integrated Photonics Ecosystem: Sensors, PDKs, and Workforce Development

K. McComber, S. Nelan
Spark Photonics,
United States

Keywords: sensors, process design kit, education, workforce


The American integrated photonics ecosystem is growing rapidly. Recently, the emergence of open-access foundries and user-friendly photonics design software has lowered the barrier to entry of the integrated photonics world, enabling technologies such as low-cost photonic sensors, automotive lidar, and high-performance computing. This presentation aims to give a glimpse into the state of the American integrated photonics ecosystem through the lens of specific areas with which the presenters are directly involved. In this talk, we will focus on efforts to develop integrated photonics-based chemical and biological sensors, the state and future of integrated photonics process design kits (PDKs) for novel applications outside the telecom/datacom wavelengths, and efforts underway to build the next generation of workforce to drive these technologies and applications. We first highlight work underway to build an inexpensive, disposable photonics diagnostic platform. Using functionalized integrated photonic devices coupled with novel microfluidics structures, human viruses – from coronaviruses to HIV and HPV – will be rapidly detected and quantified to a degree that is currently not feasible. Next, we highlight domestic efforts to meet the growing needs of state-of-the-art integrated photonics applications such as sensing, focusing primarily on PDKs available from silicon photonics foundries. Finally, we discuss how these novel applications and the growing U.S. photonics infrastructure are being leveraged to build the pipeline of photonics, semiconductor, and advanced manufacturing talent through targeted STEM outreach programs at the K-12 and college levels.