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Silicon photonics research centre established at Indian Institute of Technology Madras

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A new Silicon Photonics Research Centre of Excellence has been launched at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) Secretary, Shri S. Krishnan. Within the next five years, the Silicon Photonics Centre of Excellence, Centre for Programmable Photonic Integrated Circuits and Systems (Silicon Photonics CoE-CPPICS) is targeting achieving self-sufficiency and driving product commercialisation through startups.

IIT Madras said the centre will provide essential training to bolster the future ecosystem of PIC manufacturing in India, and is actively developing indigenous PIC design rules and hardware infrastructure for precision packaging for system-level applications. Through these activities, the CPPICS is intended to play a major role in fulfilling the objectives of the India Semiconductor Mission of the Government of India.

The immediate focus of the CPPICS is to provide better solutions for microwave and quantum photonics applications such as advanced photonic processors to be used in high-performance RF transceivers, scalable linear optical quantum computing processors for next-generation qubit computation, and chip-level quantum key generation and distribution circuits, among others. The centre has a long-term mission of catering for R&D in programmable PICs and systems using CMOS-compatible silicon photonics technology for solving various levels of complex problems.

During the inauguration on 20 October, Shri S. Krishnan said: "Today, we are inaugurating yet another of MeiTY and Government of India's initiatives in IIT Madras. Many of MeitY's efforts with IIT Madras have been huge successes and I am sure this will also succeed. We have caught up (with rest of the world) and now we should leapfrog others.... This Centre of Excellence complements many things MeitY is trying to do."

Shri S. Krishnan added: "The fact that there is an insistence and there is a rigour and discipline of bringing in industry participation is very significant. I would like to thank the industry partners, specifically Intel and Si2 Microsystems. This partnership will take us very far, both in terms of developing capacity and ensuring that all of us benefit from it. When we work together, there are larger benefits."

Addressing students specifically, Shri S. Krishnan said, "What the Government encourages you to do is to be bolder and more courageous than the previous generation in taking up challenges. Societally and economically, the country has changed to enable you to not go for the safest choice and to make bold choices and go for entrepreneurial activities."

Speaking about this Centre, Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, said, "As our country is moving towards building our own capability in semiconductor electronics, it is very heartening to see our Institute establish a Centre of Excellence in Silicon Photonics, which is an outcome of extensive R&D pursued over nearly two decades. The substantial seed funding for establishing this state-of-the-art Silicon Photonics CPPICS by MeitY has helped in consolidation of indigenously-developed silicon photonics technology at IIT Madras. I am confident that the centre is going to impact significantly, both in the domestic as well as global silicon photonics R&D market in the upcoming years."

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