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The American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics) is an industry-driven public-private partnership that focuses the nation’s premiere capabilities and expertise to capture critical global manufacturing leadership in a technology — integrated photonics — that is both essential to national security and positioned to provide a compelling return on investment for the U.S. economy.
AIM Summer Academy 2018 attendees. Courtesy of AIM Photonics Academy, MIT.
AIM Photonics is part of U.S. manufacturing activity that covers a range of emerging technologies. It is unique in that it has its own factory already in Albany, N.Y., close to a billion dollars’ worth of investment in a foundry to produce integrated photonics chips, as well as another investment about half as large that covers packaging and testing and assembly of these chips into small modular systems in Rochester, N.Y.
AIM Photonics recently held a week-long boot-camp-style academy (the third to date) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which included students from all over the world. MIT professor and executive at AIM Photonics, Lionel Kimerling, told Photonics Media that the AIM Summer Academy brings together students from big and small enterprises, providing practical access and technology on-ramps for U.S. industry, government, and academic communities.
“It’s actually pretty exciting for the teachers and the students. We’re bringing together students that come from companies and universities that want to get involved in the emerging technology of integrated photonics,” said Kimerling. “Integrated photonics is important because it’s the key to scaling. You may know that transistors can’t get any smaller, and that has been the way that we have been able to make better processor chips and better computers, but now we have to have a different way, a way that is dependent upon communication among different processors.”
Kimerling and staff at the AIM Photonics Academy are teaching the almost 60 students at the AIM Summer academy fundamentals and design.
“We’re trying to teach them design and to take advantage of the automated design infrastructure already in the semiconductor industry. And, if they can use those tools, then they are way ahead of producing new designs and replicating those designs and scaling forward,” said Kimerling. “On the other side are more fundamentals, also teaching how you do the processing, how you do the design, how you do total quality management, which are all integral parts of manufacturing.”
The intense one-week boot camp sessions are becoming one of AIM Photonics’ flagship activities.
“Over the course of 4 1/2 days, there are a number of courses where people get trained in devices and circuit modeling and in thinking in very concrete terms about the application’s payoff in the real world,” said AIM Photonics Academy education director Sajan Saini. “This is a very engineering-focused payoff that the program has and by bringing people together in one space, a lot of networking develops.”
The Institute’s goal is to emulate the dramatic successes experienced by the electronics industry over the past 40 years and transition key lessons, processes, and approaches to the photonic integrated circuit (PIC) industry.READ MORE