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Building a Photonic Systems Manufacturing Consortium

Photonics Consortium

Goal: Address the technology gaps and challenges that are limiting the use of hardware technology for use in integrated photonic system manufacturing.

Background:  With Internet traffic increasing by 40 percent to 50 percent annually, new light-based technologies—or photonics—are considered the best option for keeping up with exponentially growing demand for communicating and processing information.

While fiber-optic cables are used to transmit data over long distances, photonic technologies are edging into a variety of other uses, all the way down to on-chip communications. Perhaps the biggest opportunities may be in integrating electronic and photonics technologies into single systems, called photonic integrated circuits.  Realizing these opportunities requires development of assembly and packaging technologies and processes that are high-volume, reliable, and cost-effective, and are based on silicon processing.

Approach: The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative together with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Microphotonics Center, established a consortium of academics, technologists, and companies to define gaps and roadblocks in the U.S. integrated photonics manufacturing industry.  The Photonic Systems Manufacturing Consortium: involved over 400 professionals, representing more than 160 companies, academic institutions, and government labs; aimed to bring together the fragmented, customization-focused photonics industry to engage collaboratively in developing a common roadmap; created two Product Emulator Groups, one on Data Centers and one on the Internet of Things to focus on two key photonics technologies of the future; established four Technology Working Groups which used the projected technology needs from the other groups as input for individual technology roadmaps; used a bottoms-up Delphi process, relying on numerous technology experts to give their vision of the technology needs that must be developed to create products of the future, as well as identifying areas for innovation and the utilization of disruptive technologies; produced a roadmap over a period of 18 months based on inputs and meetings between the photonics industry, government, and academia. 

Outcome:  The Photonic Systems Manufacturing Consortium roadmap consists of four technical roadmaps, and has associated with it one or more gaps, showstoppers, and recommendations to be addressed by the U.S. photonics industry.  The roadmap:

  1. Identifies critical technical requirements for next generation photonic system integration and packaging
  2. Details potential solutions to meet these requirements economically;
  3. Identifies the U.S. supply chain limitations for commercial deployment of the required component performance over a 20-year timeframe; and
  4. Identifies significant needs in the following areas:  standards development, training of designers, manufacturing technologies, materials, component technology, security and information management, and paradigm shifts (predominantly cloud-connected digital devices)

Upon completion of its AMTech project, the Consortium transitioned and expanded its roadmapping efforts to support the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics), a Manufacturing USA Institute. 

The Photonic Systems Manufacturing Consortium is currently developing a new roadmap for AIM Photonics, called the Integrated Photonic Systems Roadmap, which superceded the AMTech roadmap.  These roadmaps will help guide U.S. photonics systems manufacturing research, address systems requirements for networks that fully leverage the power of photonics, and help guide U.S. R&D investments in the coming years, both in the private and the government sectors.

Lead:  International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI)

Funded Participants: MIT Microphotonics Center (Cambridge, MA)
Award Number:  70NANB14H053
Federal Funding:  $539,990
Project Duration:  18 months
AMTech Project Manager: Thomas R. Lettieri

More information


Created July 9, 2018, Updated February 23, 2019