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Complex Photonic Systems II (COPOS II)


This proposal seeks the renewal of the COPOS Platform grant at the Centre for Photonic Systems at Cambridge University. The rationale for the work is the premise that the field of photonics must progress from focussing on single function systems (for example optical fibre links), where advances in performance have been primarily due to developing bespoke high speed components, to one where much more complex systems can be constructed using greater levels of integration. Such advances should benefit from the expanding range of optical materials available, especially flexible materials. It is increasingly accepted that should such goals be achieved, then photonics can become a technology of ubiquitous application in the 21st Century, as electronics became in the 20th Century. For it to be fully adopted however, not only should the integration technology deliver the performance and functionality required, but it should use readily available processes. In short the technology should become commoditised and available to a much wider range of manufacturers.

As a result, COPOS II will seek to build on past research at Cambridge to develop integration fabrication techniques which can be used by non-photonic companies, in particular those involved in printed circuit board manufacture. The work will develop exemplar sub-systems which will not only allow greater functionality in performance, but can be made at low cost (even for low volumes), whilst addressing growing issues such as energy consumption.

There will be two main integration technologies at the heart of the project:

The use of siloxanes formed directly on large area printed circuit boards so that multilayer electronic and photonic circuits can be formed using low cost processing, with the optical and electronic components populated using pick-and-place techniques, and

The use of quantum dot III-V material systems for forming integrated circuit functions (such as large port count active routers) which cannot be realised using the siloxane technology, but which can be readily integrated with it.

In the case of the first, it is intended later in the project to print active components (for example organic LEDs and detectors) directly onto the board and to introduce capacitive coupling to electronic components for the lowest possible power consumption. As a result, by developing these two integration approaches, we believe that we can meet the great majority of future integration requirements for photonic systems.

It should be noted that a series of specific application goals including interconnect, Ethernet, healthcare and imaging systems, have been set to encourage the research to advance in as adventurous a manner as possible. In introducing a more challenge- based approach to our research, we are keen to extend the level of electronic and photonic integration, such as:

Much greater use of complementary electronic signal processing

Introduction of printing techniques both for electronic and optical integration

The introduction of much greater levels of (non-wavelength) parallelism in optical circuits

In addition to enabling us to develop our research, the platform grant will also allow us to innovate in our research practice and hence deliver additional benefits. For example, the grant would enable us to develop new techniques to:

Manage our research and develop it strategically while flexibly engaging in new concepts

Retain the wide range of skills which are so important in this type of activity whilst empowering key members of our group to build up their own careers by broadening their expertise

Grow our outreach activities

Engage in new industrial and international academic collaborations, whilst developing our existing ones.

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