Design & SimulationOctober 3, 2019

Designing Photonic Integrated Circuits

As electronics become more and more advanced, a variety of technologies are…
Avatar Clare Scott

As electronics become more and more advanced, a variety of technologies are required for optimum performance. Photonic technologies are an intriguing development that can be used for applications such as low-loss signal transmissions, like in optical fibers, or resonators with high Q values. Photonic devices are more resistant to electromagnetic interference, which is becoming more of an issue as the data rates within electronic devices increase.

To use photonic technology for electronics such as computers, medical devices, or mobile communication devices, the photonic components need to be miniaturized, similar to transistors in an electronic integrated circuit. Miniaturizing these components results in what is known as a photonic integrated circuit, or PIC.

In recent years, a great deal of progress has been made in creating integrated versions of optical components such as waveguides, resonators, modulators and filters. With nanoscale features sizes on these components, PICs can be created on the micrometer to millimeter scale. This allows electronic and photonic integrated circuits to be combined. This has led to the availability of high-speed optical transceivers, which can operate highly efficiently in small size.

PICs are predicted to grow quickly in communication technologies as the need for bandwidth increases. In a whitepaper entitled “Design Optimization and Sensitivity Analysis of Photonic Integrated Circuits,” a design approach for PICs is outlined using the modeling and simulation tools VPI Design Suite – specifically VPIcomponentMaker Photonic Circuits – and CST Studio Suite.

The challenges of designing and fabricating PICs are described. It is one thing to design a circuit to carry out a specific purpose, and another to create a design that actually works after fabrication. Detailed information is given on how to accomplish a functional circuit, optimize it, and balance accuracy and simulation speed.

Photonic integrated circuits are poised to have a large role to play in the continued development of electronic devices, affecting fields from medicine to communication. To fully take advantage of these devices, simulation is necessary to ensure optimum performance. Learn more about how to design, simulate and fabricate photonic integrated circuits in the whitepaper “Design Optimization and Sensitivity Analysis of Photonic Integrated Circuits,” available for download here.

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