David Huff, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Skorpios Technologies.
The demand for all things digital has gone into overdrive due to the increasing data demands of 5G, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, and Augmented/Virtual Reality. This need for bandwidth is driving cost efficiencies and speed increases throughout the data communications infrastructure, and costs per gigabit decrease for components with greater levels of integration. The photonics industry, in particular, is employing integration processes at the wafer level to facilitate the miniaturization of the manufacturing process, reduce the number of components used, and drive cost savings.
Addressing these challenges is Skorpios Technologies Inc., an Albuquerque-based optical communications company focused on revolutionizing the Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC). “We specialize in integrated silicon photonics using the unique Tru- SiPh™ platform. It heterogeneously incorporates lasers, modulators, and other components on a polarization insensitive silicon photonics platform,” explains David Huff, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing for Skorpios Technologies.
The company has a three-fold approach to cost-saving—firstly, their devices are half the cost and one quarter the size of their counterparts for the same optical speed and functionality. Secondly, the innovative manufacturing process promotes cost savings by assimilating MUXing (multiplexing), DeMUXing (demultiplexing), light generation and detection, and modulation.
Lastly, Skorpios integrates, burns-in, and tests their components at wafer-scale, so that the customer gets a ‘Known Good Die’ (KGD), which is a measure of quality among electronic devices. Moreover, these chips are hermetically sealed, thus saving costs on the packaging. Such key benefits are required by high precision and critical manufacturing industries employing integrated photonics. Skorpios Technologies caters to the communications industry today, but the Tru-SiPh™ platform will also be used for Lidar and Biosensor applications in the future.
Unlike other solution providers that have tried to integrate a lasing medium on silicon photonics directly, Skorpios Technologies embeds the III-V material (also known as the Epi-material) into the Silicon on Insulator (SOI) wafer, defines and etches the optical device in place, and connects the devices to the silicon photonics wafer with a silicon bridge. Due to this process, the photonic elements are lithographically aligned with the waveguides, and no precision alignments are required. The devices then undergo complete hermetic encapsulation by Silicon Dioxide. “For instance, our 800G-FR4 transceiver module consists of 2xFR4 800Gb/s chip. It is a 5x4 mm chip with eight modulators, eight amplifiers, and four lasers split into two channels. These wavelengths are modulated and combined in two optical MUXes, which is a level of integration unheard of in the industry,” explains Huff. In addition, the company offers an intermediate solution to its clients, known as an Engine, which has integrated the DSP and TIA functions on a Multichip Module. The clients can then connect the engine to their PC boards, build up their modules and connect fibers to easily implement a high-speed 800 GB/s module.
Skorpios Technologies has its proprietary process for manufacturing photonics chips, thus rendering it uniquely capable of offering solutions not available in the merchant market. Moreover, the company has lower manufacturing costs due to its vertical integration, and owning its own fab. This helps Skorpios Technologies stand apart from its market competition.
Recently, Skorpios Technologies has partnered with a client with a transformational volume pricing in the industry that delivered 30 to 40 percent cost savings for 100 Gb/s and at half the cost for 200 Gb/s. Leveraging this relationship, Skorpios incorporated its state-of-the-art integration technology with the volume manufacturing capability of the partner to offer a market price that no one else can achieve.
For decades, the photonics industry used a ‘tweezer and microscope’ manufacturing methodology. Skorpios was founded with the intent to transform the industry by providing fully integrated optical devices with no compromises. Skorpios’ Tru-SiPh™ technology goes beyond other silicon photonics platforms by integrating all required functionality in a single device, using only standard CMOS processing tools.