Gent University and imec Launch Silicon Photonics Spin-off Caliopa
Ghent University (UGent) and imec announced the creation of Caliopa, a spin-off from their Photonics Research Group. An initial €2 million in funding was raised from Baekeland, Fidimec, PMV-Vinnof, a private investor and the founders. Caliopa will develop and market advanced silicon photonics based optical transceivers for the data and telecommunications markets.
"Multiple optical components can be replaced with a single optical chip by using silicon photonics allowing us to develop small, highly integrated and low power optical transceivers. The ability to make these silicon photonics components at standard CMOS manufacturing facilities also makes it commercially very attractive" commented Martin De Prycker, CEO of Caliopa. "Key potential customers have expressed great interest in Caliopa’s solutions stating that port density and power consumption are the major concerns in driving the growth of optical networks."
Caliopa will be able to build on the know-how, intellectual property and experience of years of research by the world renowned Photonics Research Group at Ghent University and imec led by Prof. Roel Baets. In addition, it will use the expertise in silicon processing of the world-leading nanoelectronics research center imec. To develop its first products, the company raised €2 million in funding from a consortium of investors led by Baekeland, Fidimec and PMV-Vinnof.
Caliopa currently counts 7 team members, composed of technical experts from imec/UGent and industry veterans with over 75 years cumulative management experience in the high tech industry. The company is planning to double this team in the next 12 months.
Silicon photonics offers the possibility of large cost savings (in materials, components, and energy consumption) and a significant increase in capabilities. The ability to use standard microelectronic CMOS manufacturing facilities and processes makes silicon photonics commercially very attractive.
The sub-micron precision of these standard microelectronic CMOS processes allow for silicon photonics components to integrate a variety of optical functions in a very small chip that consumes far less power than traditional optical components. The decades of experience making (electronic) chips from silicon as well as the installed base of (silicon) semiconductor manufacturing capacity can be leveraged to build highly integrated low-cost optical components for a variety of applications. The performance, enabled by the high accuracy of the semiconductor manufacturing tools, is an important benefit but of even more interest is the potential to lower costs and increase volume production, much as it is in the regular semiconductor industry.
According to the parties involved, silicon photonics technology has become mature enough to potentially disrupt the component supply-side of electronic and telecom/datacom markets.