AngelTech Virtual 2 – The Sequel Proves A Hit Success
Over 1700 delegates had the opportunity to watch, listen and learn as a host of industry luminaries provided some great insight into the latest developments in the compound semiconductor and specialised photonic integrated circuit technology sectors.
Angel Business Communications CEO and Event Organiser, Sukhi Bhadal, was delighted with the second AngelTech event, as it brought together the research, vendor and end user communities for some valuable education and networking opportunities.
“Following on from the continued disruption the COVID-19 pandemic has caused to the events industry, we were disappointed when we had to twice postpone physical Brussels event in March and then again in November. We have been delighted with the continued support the compound semiconductor and photonic integrated circuits community has given us. The 2nd AngelTech event was a fantastic success with over 1700 delegates registered, 25 sponsors signed up and some inspirational speakers. The event was held on our own virtual event platform ‘Connect' and it allowed us to keep the community connected, learning and developing business.”
There is a significant overlap between the PIC and the compound semiconductor industry. Some photonic circuits are formed from InP, while others, such as those made from silicon or polymers, depend on III-Vs for the light source. Due to this close working relationship, the CS and PIC summits kicked off with a shared session that included some of the ways that III-Vs play a role in photonic circuits.
One talk by Geza Kurczwell from Hewlett Packard Enterprise focused on this theme, outlining how quantum dots could aid internal communication in supercomputers, while presentations from analysts at Yole Développement and Strategy Analytics detailed the promising outlook for the PIC industry, which has opportunities in many sectors.
This year the compound semiconductor industry has grabbed the headlines in the mainstream press for the role UV LEDs can play in combatting the Covid-19 epidemic. Detailing this opportunity, along with others, Jennifer Pagan from Aquisense Technologies described how UV LEDs can assist healthcare. While the performance of this device lags behind its light-emitting cousin, Haiding Sun from the University of Science & Technology China outlined several architectures that could help it to catch up.
Advances in visible LEDs continue. The green gap thwarts this sector, but it could be overcome by switching to the cubic form of GaN, argued David Wallis from Kubos Semiconductors. Despite difficulties in making green LEDs, the performance of all forms of visible LED continues to increase, and they are now capable of providing the light source in colour projectors for homes and offices, according to Benjamin Schulz from Osram Opto Semiconductors. Another lucrative opportunity for the LED lies in displays, where arrays of tiny chips provide direct emission. Transferring vast numbers of miniature LED chips onto a backplane is time-consuming, even with massive parallel transfer techniques, but microfluidics offers a promising alternative, revealed Paul Schuele from eLux Display.
As well as advancing devices made from established material systems, the AngelTech Online Summit considered the potential of new materials. One is AlScN, offering an opportunity for enhancing the channel in GaN-based HEMTs, claimed Stefano Leone from Fraunhofer IAF; and another is gallium oxide, capable or record-breaking field strengths, explained Andrew Green from the US Air Force Research Laboratory.
Reflecting on the success of the PIC Virtual II part of AngelTech, Conference Chair, Dr Michael Lebby, comments: "The 2nd PIC Virtual Conference brought together a world class line up of speakers and discussion between attendees and those speakers. Virtual conferences have grown in popularity in 2020, and with our pre-recorded presentations, and live Q&A, issues, challenges, observations, comments were discussed and debated in a lively fashion. This brought a level of excitement to the conference and created an atmosphere where PIC technologies could be reviewed more thoroughly.”
The PIC Virtual II had talks and speakers that represented the whole value chain from wafers to epitaxial growth, devices, packaging, modules, systems, and social media companies that represent hyperscale datacenters and huge volume opportunities for PICs.
The first session, combined with Compound Semiconductor Virtual II looked at the opportunities for PICs in the supply chain, as well as the challenges that would be seen in the near future by one of the biggest photonics trade associations globally, EPIC. Quantum dot lasers, an exciting innovation for the technology were explored for applications in supercomputers and machines in general that require heavy computational processing. The session finished with market perspectives for photonics and specifically integrated photonics with silicon. While photonic integrated circuits essentially puts together many photonic components, there is now a need to fully integrate both electronics and photonics on the same platform.
This year, there were over 1700 delegates attending the one day of sessions on photonic integrated circuits (PICs) that focused not only on innovative technology, but how PICs could alleviate major headaches that optical networks, datacentres, telecommunications systems, automotive, computational processing, that we see today. Many talks focused on how PICs could be implemented into novel and innovative applications to move the industry forward, and keep the industry moving forward.
In 2020 with the rise of working from home, one of the biggest drivers for PICs are fiber-optic communications for datacentre interconnects. Facebook conveyed huge opportunities for innovative solutions for their datacentres that addressed high speed, low power consumption, innovative packaging (via co-packaged solutions), and cost effectiveness. Facebook's drive was reliability, and showed that modulated signals have alleviated issues of early failures from individual lasers. Facebook also conveyed that high speed and low power are critical metrics for their architecture in datacentres.
There were also talks that explored PIC based technologies outside of fiber-optics, and those areas included bio, medical, sensing, and LIDAR for automotive applications. One of the most promising segments for PICs is silicon photonics, and this platform has matured quickly over the past few years. Silicon photonics is now utilizing hybrid solutions to improve performance on their integrated platform. At the conference we heard from a number of exciting technologies that could enable silicon photonics to be even more value to end-users. These technologies included: polymer modulators, high pockel's effect materials for modulators, neuromorphic computing architectures, and a highly topical subject: co-packaging or CPO (co-packaging optics).