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Sep 24th, 2010
UGent and imec launch silicon photonics spin-off Caliopa
Silicon photonics allows for small, highly integrated & low power optical transceivers for data and telecommunication.
Ghent University (UGent) and imec today announced the creation of Caliopa, a spin-off from their world leading Photonics Research Group. An initial 2 million Euro in funding was raised from Baekeland, Fidimec, PMV-Vinnof, a private investor and the founders. Caliopa will develop and market advanced silicon photonics based optical transceivers for the data and telecommunications markets.
According to the latest Market Forecast from LightCounting LLC, the premier market research firm for optical communications, the global sales of optical transceivers will reach $2.4 billion in 2010, with the market posting a 13% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2011 and 2014, as the industry catches up with the steadily growing demand for bandwidth.
“Multiple optical components can be replaced with a single optical chip by using silicon photonics allowing us to develop small, highly integrated and low power optical transceivers. The ability to make these silicon photonics components at standard CMOS manufacturing facilities also makes it commercially very attractive” commented Martin De Prycker, CEO of Caliopa. “Key potential customers have expressed great interest in Caliopa’s solutions stating that port density and power consumption are the major concerns in driving the growth of optical networks.”
Caliopa will be able to build on the know-how, intellectual property and experience of years of research by the world renowned Photonics Research Group at Ghent University and imec led by Prof. Roel Baets. In addition, it will use the expertise in silicon processing of the world-leading nanoelectronics research center imec. To develop its first products, the company raised 2 million Euro in funding from a consortium of investors led by Baekeland, Fidimec and PMV-Vinnof.
Caliopa currently counts 7 team members, composed of technical experts from imec/UGent and industry veterans with over 75 years cumulative management experience in the high tech industry. The company is planning to double this team in the next 12 months.
The sub-micron precision of these standard microelectronic CMOS processes allow for silicon photonics components to integrate a variety of optical functions in a very small chip that consumes far less power than traditional optical components. The decades of experience making (electronic) chips from silicon as well as the installed base of (silicon) semiconductor manufacturing capacity can be leveraged to build highly integrated low-cost optical components for a variety of applications. The performance, enabled by the high accuracy of the semiconductor manufacturing tools, is an important benefit but of even more interest is the potential to lower costs and increase volume production, much as it is in the regular semiconductor industry.
Silicon photonics technology has become mature enough to potentially disrupt the component supply-side of electronic and telecom/datacom markets.
Imec is a registered trademark for the activities of IMEC International (a legal entity set up under Belgian law as a "stichting van openbaar nut”), imec Belgium (IMEC vzw supported by the Flemish Government), imec the Netherlands (Stichting IMEC Nederland, part of Holst Centre which is supported by the Dutch Government), imec Taiwan (IMEC Taiwan Co.) and imec China (IMEC Microelectronics (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.).
Photonics is a field in which Ghent University excels. The Photonics Research Group is one of Europe’s leading groups in the field of photonic integration. It hosts three ERC-grant holders. Recently Ghent University has founded a multidisciplinary research platform in the field of photonics: the Center for Nano- and Biophotonics (‘NB Photonics’), thereby clustering the resources and knowhow of 12 professors from four different faculties. The technology transfer in the field of photonics is taken care of by a specific unit: the Photonics Innovation Center ‘Plateau’, which was instrumental during the incubation phase of Caliopa. Also with respect to education in photonics, Ghent University takes a leading role by coordinating an international master program in this field.
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