Photonics is related to the generation, control and detection of light. Photonic technologies are becoming more pervasive in the world, with applications ranging from energy efficient lighting or high speed telecommunications to minimally invasive medical devices or specialized materials processing. As photonic systems become more complex, driven by the demands of such emerging applications, there is a move towards higher levels of integration, much like the developments made in previous decades in microelectronic integration.
However, unlike microelectronics, photonic systems can be fabricated from a wide variety of diverse materials, from semiconductors including InP, GaAs, GaN and silicon, to dielectrics and advanced polymers. In addition, there is an increasing demand to integrate both photonic and electronic functions on the same device which presents additional technological challenges and which can result in extremely high chip and package manufacturing costs. Therefore, production of these devices is non-trivial and access to fabrication and packaging services is an issue, especially for companies and researchers who do not have their own in-house expertise or advanced cleanroom facilities. These issues combined present major roadblocks which impede the development, uptake and commmercialisation of photonic technologies, especially highly integrated photonic systems.
In this issue of Advanced Optical Technologies, we focus on recent developments in the fields of photonic devices, sensors, materials and systems. A major theme throughout the articles is the drive towards integration. We also present reviews of advanced foundry services in silicon, InP and dielectric photonic materials. These foundries give users unique access to state-of-the-art photonic device fabrication capabilities, bridging the gap between initial concepts and fully functioning prototypes.
Silicon photonics enables the production of highly integrated photonic sub-systems leveraging-off many of the advances made in CMOS electronics. This offers the potential for cost reduction through mass manufacture using well-established wafer processing techniques. Articles in this issue review the latest developments in silicon photonic devices for high speed telecommunications and in process design kits which enable the fabrication of highly integrated silicon photonics devices.
III–V photonic technologies including InP and GaAs materials are essential for coherent light emission and a critical component in all photonic communication systems. In this issue we review developments in III–V photonic materials and sources. We also review access to state-of-the-art InP foundry services which help meet the need for highly integrated photonic systems. Finally, we review a low loss dielectric platform suitable for integrated photonic systems ranging from UV to mid-IR wavelengths.
This issue should be of interest to a wide audience as it presents highly informative articles that address a broad range of technologies and applications. We expect these articles will benefit not only those familiar with photonics, but also readers interested in understanding the potential of photonics for their particular application, even if they are not photonics experts.