NIST and AIM Photonics Team Up on High Frequency Optical/Electronic Chips

Manufacturing, Photonics, Semi-Conductor, Supply Chain

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has entered into a cooperative research and development agreement with AIM Photonics that will give chip developers a critical new tool for designing faster chips that use both optical and electrical signals to transmit information. Called integrated photonic circuits, these chips are key components in fiber-optic networks and high-performance computing facilities and are used in laser-guided missiles, medical sensors and other advanced technologies. 

AIM Photonics, a Manufacturing USA institute, is a public-private partnership that accelerates the commercialization of new technologies for manufacturing photonic chips. The New York-based institute provides small and medium-sized businesses and academic and government researchers access to expertise and fabrication facilities during all phases of the photonics development cycle, from design to fabrication and packaging.

As part of the new collaboration, NIST will design electrical “calibration structures” that can be used to measure and test the electronic performance of the chips. This will result in improved designs for photonic chips that operate at speeds up to 110 gigahertz (GHz). Most current photonic chips operate at around 25 GHz.

“This effort will leverage NIST’s expertise in chip measurements, calibration and integrated device modeling,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Laurie E. Locascio. And while planning for this effort began before the passage of the CHIPS Act, it aligns with the act’s goals. “This shows how government and industry can work together to drive innovation and restore U.S. global leadership in semiconductor manufacturing,” Locascio said.