A national action plan is under way to help Canadian companies exploit the commercial potential of silicon photonics — a market that is expected to grow to more than $2 billion by 2015.
The Canadian Photonic Industry Consortium (CPIC) and CMC Microsystems co-hosted the Workshop on Silicon Photonics from Sept. 10-11 in Ottawa, creating a “think tank” of more than 70 representatives of industry, government and academia from Canada, Europe and Asia. The session facilitated discussion on Canadian R&D strengths, industry needs and key opportunities in silicon photonics, which will contribute to the development of a national roadmap to help capitalize on the silicon photonics market.
Silicon photonics combines laser and silicon technology on the same chip, creating the potential to dramatically increase the data processing speed, power and performance of computers and other applications.
The event brought together Canadian SMEs and multinational companies representing silicon photonics end users, including Ericsson, Cisco, Ciena and Huawei. The event also provided a platform for scientists from five Canadian universities and the National Research Council Canada to promote photonics concepts and research programs. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, which allocated more than $16 million to optics and photonics projects last year, presented funding programs for industry-academic collaboration.
An overview of global technology partnership collaboration programs was also given by leaders from Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. The value of such R&D cooperation was reinforced by the participation of international delegates from the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in the US, the University of Glasgow in Scotland, and the A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics, a silicon photonics R&D foundry based in Singapore.
Workshop participants concluded that Canada has significant capabilities in silicon photonics but that R&D collaboration among universities, research institutes, component companies and multinational network equipment suppliers is necessary to harness the technology’s true potential.
“This session provided a valuable opportunity to solicit feedback on silicon photonics from developers and end users,” said Dan Gale, CTO and vice president of CMC Microsystems.
Many technical challenges lie ahead, as this technology is only in the early stages. As a nation, Canada does not yet have the scale and scope of resources required to address all facets of silicon photonics. For example, the country lacks packaging and prototyping facilities that enable components to be quickly and efficiently tested in applications and systems. For Canada to fully exploit this industry, emphasis must be placed on national and global R&D partnerships.
“This workshop generated new ideas on how to further develop Canada's capabilities in silicon photonics, and help to establish Canada as a global leader in this emerging technology,” said Robert Corriveau, president and executive director of CPIC. “Silicon photonics opens up new research and commercial opportunities in many sectors, and Canada is starting to establish distinct R&D strengths in this field. We aim to help Canadian companies to exploit the capabilities of this technology and develop new applications that increase Canada's share of the global silicon photonics market. This includes connecting our firms to some of the best photonics research talent and capabilities in the world.”
“TeraXion is making a strategic investment in silicon photonics to further reduce the footprint, power consumption and cost of our products,” said Michel Cyr, research director of TeraXion. “This workshop provided a valuable overview of the photonics research landscape in Canada, including potential R&D collaborators and capabilities. These linkages are invaluable as we continue to develop our next-generation silicon photonics platform and seek new ways to increase our competitive advantage in the global marketplace.”
CPIC is an industry-led organization that aims to increase the competitiveness of Canada’s photonics sector by accelerating the application and adoption of novel Canadian photonics technologies across the economy. It was founded in April 2012 following a merger of the Canadian Institute for Photonic Innovations and the Canadian Photonic Consortium.
For more information, visit: http://photonscanada.ca/en