Luxtera

Company Background

Luxtera was formed in 2001 to take advantage of the fact that with production CMOS line widths in the vicinity of 100nm the CMOS process itself can be used to create an array of complex photonic devices (1).  Luxtera makes components called silicon CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) photonics, which uses optical systems to transfer data at speeds much faster than the electrical wires of chips. But in contrast to earlier optical systems, these components are built into silicon chips (2).  Because Luxtera leverages the extraordinary economies and infrastructures of CMOS in terms of software, processing, testing and packaging, it is the first company to build photonic solutions that is truly “fabless” in the sense that from the very beginning Luxtera’s chips have been fabricated in one of the world’s major fine-line width production CMOS processes (1).

Luxtera’s CMOS Photonics™ devices are fully integrated with CMOS electronics and are also orders of magnitude smaller (and in many cases faster) than traditional photonic elements.  Luxtera’s product roadmap is focused on fulfilling the insatiable demand for bandwidth by directly integrating high speed fiber-optic network interfaces into standard CMOS chips (1).  Luxtera has shipped more than 1 million 10-gigabit channels to date (2).

Strategic Partnerships

In 2011 Luxtera transfered all aspects of its existing and future active optical cable business to Molex. Molex will now manufacture and market those products worldwide for high-speed connectivity applications including data centers and supercomputing.  The deal gave Molex immediate, high-performance addition to its existing family of interconnect products, and will leave Luxtera free to focus on the development of silicon photonics technology (4).

Caltech, provided Luxtera with their initial base of intellectual property and serves is an ongoing R&D partner.  Luxtera’s team includes business and technical leaders from a cross-section of the world’s major technology companies and academic institutions including: AMD, Caltech, Intel, JDSU, Lucent, Motorola, MIT, Nortel, Stanford and Tellabs (1).  Investors in Luxtera include NEA, August Capital, Sevin Rosen, Funds, and Lux Capital, as well as new investment from Tokyo Electron, and personal investment from an unnamed “industry titan.”  Recently Luxtera received $21.7 million in a third round of funding (2).

Luxtera recently collaborated with Freescale Semiconductor as its foundry source to achieve production of the world's first commercial Silicon CMOS Photonics semiconductor manufacturing process. For a number of years, the companies collaborated on enhancing Freescale's SOI CMOS semiconductor fabrication process, at its Austin, Texas manufacturing facility, to add photonic circuit capabilities to an existing 130nm electronics manufacturing process (3).

Luxtera is also involved with projects funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) program to develop next-generation optical interconnects to produce chip-to-chip and intra-chip interconnect technology for high performance computing systems (3).

Innovation and Technology

Luxtera’s new photonically enabled CMOS fabrication process enables development and manufacturing of low cost Electro-Photonic Integrated Circuits (EPIC) bringing CMOS Photonics to mainstream markets ahead of the competition. Silicon CMOS Photonics is widely recognized as the key enabler of the next-generation of data-networking, computer, multi-core processor, and consumer electronics products.

Silicon CMOS Photonics technology enables design and manufacturing of optics and electronics on a single CMOS die. This process combines standard transistors for digital and analogue electronic circuitry with passive nano-photonic optical structures, as well as monolithic integration of active photonic device elements and enables direct fiber-to-the-chip attachments. The new fabrication process allows the production of integrated single chip transceivers for a multitude of applications. These CMOS Photonic transceivers offer better performance, increased reliability, and reduced power consumption of opto-electronic circuits at a fraction of the cost of traditional optical assemblie.  Luxtera is currently applying this process technology to deliver low cost opto-electronic transceiver products for a number of high performance computing, data communications, and consumer electronics markets (3).

Products

  • CMOS Photonics™ (1)
  • Electro-Photonic Integrated Circuits (EPIC) (3)
  • 40 Gb/s optical transceiver (4)

For more information, see the Luxtera location page.

Sources

  1. Luxtera (2012). Retrieved on October 30, 2012 from www.luxtera.com/about-us.html
  2. Venture Beat (2012, February 27). “Luxtera raises $21.7M for silicon photonic components.” Retrieved on October 30, 2012 from http://venturebeat.com/2012/02/27/luxtera-raises-21-7m-for-silicon-photonic-components/
  3. Nanotechnology Now (2009, June 4). “Luxtera Announces Production Status of World’s First Commercial Silicon CMOS Photonics Fabrication Process.” Retrieved on October 30, 2012 from  www.nanotech-now.com/news.cgi?story_id=33468
  4. Optics.org (2011, January 11). “Luxtera sells optical cable business to Molex.” Retrieved on October 30, 2012 from http://optics.org/news/2/1/6