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/Applications/Data and telecommunication

Data and telecommunication

Partner with imec to develop and fabricate your next generations of radios and communication technology.

50 GB/s and 5G are only the beginning. Whether you’re building telecom equipment, running state-of-the-art data centers, or designing IoT networks and applications, you’ll agree that the networking industry is going through a pivotal change.

Your equipment needs to cater for exponentially growing data flows from edge applications to base stations, but also between servers in data centers and even between cores on a chip. All that data has to be relayed with minimum latency and maximal reliability.

Imec is an ideal partner to help you remain on top. We are developing solutions taking into account long-term industry roadmaps. You will profit from our collaborations with the largest players in the ecosystem. Moreover, as the emerging technologies involve new materials and components, we also offer capacity for integration, prototyping, small-to-medium volume production and – through our partners – even large volume manufacturing.

Contact us today and see how we can contribute to your solutions

Silicon photonics for high-speed transceivers for data centers and fronthaul

The solution of choice for next-generation transceivers will involve silicon photonics, a technology that has become mature, can be integrated on chip, and allows multiplying data speeds without increasing energy use.

Moreover, silicon photonics is within everyone’s reach: even start-ups can now develop transceivers with photonic components. That is, if you have a partner like imec that masters the specific challenges and offers the required processing that is not yet available within traditional IC fabrication.

So if you’re involved in next-gen data transceivers, come and talk with us to see how we can collaborate.

Testing of a silicon photonics device at imec.

Here are some highlights of our offering:

  • Imec’s Industrial Affiliation program on advanced optical I/O explores and enables future system-level performance scaling using fully CMOS-compatible silicon-based optical links. We’re also looking into high-performance integrated photonics electro-optic devices (HI-PED) to increase the performance of silicon photonics.
  • We offer all the tools you need to physically design photonic ICs, including a device library of photonic components, layout guidelines for custom devices and a full set of PDKs – all indispensable for your silicon photonics design process.
  • Our highly qualified experts design dedicated state-of-the-art circuits and components even down to modulators, resonators, rotators, couplers and filters.
  • You get access to our 200mm and 300mm technology platforms, with a proven expertise in integrating silicon and silicon nitride photonics components for data rates of 50 GB/s and beyond:
    • Imec's silicon photonics platform (iSiPP): SOI-based, co-integrates a wide variety of passive and active components, enabling competitive photonic integrated circuits for short-reach optical interconnects. The platform comes in three distinct flavors: iSiPP200 (200mm) (8”), iSiPP50G: 200mm (8”) via MPW and iSiPP300 (300mm) (12”).
    • Imec’s silicon nitride platform offers distinct features such as tight process control, CMOS compatibility, low propagation loss, and high-power handling. The perfect environment for developing devices in the communication domain.
    • Imec offers in-house fabrication of prototypes and low-volume runs of your photonics ICs through multi-project or dedicated wafer runs. In addition, we can provide a path to higher volume production in a partner’s commercial 200mm foundry.

High-capacity wireless solutions for 5G and beyond

With 5G currently rolled out and promising a data revolution, companies are already eying wireless technologies beyond 5G (B5G). These will accelerate the trend towards increasingly virtualized, programmable, and distributed network infrastructure.

Imec’s beyond 5G research program targets extreme-data-rate, low-cost and low-power radio solutions enabling next-generation device-to-device communication, high-quality augmented and virtual reality as well as >100 Gbps backhaul applications.

This program includes research on:

  • high-speed III-V and III-N devices and process technology using low-cost, high-volume silicon compatible processes
  • novel integration approaches for hybrid circuit topologies with InP-based or GaN-based devices on Si
  • innovative radio transceiver architectures above 100 GHz and IC designs leveraging ultra-scaled CMOS, BiCMOS, and III/V process technologies
  • co-design of chip, antenna and package to arrive at the best tradeoff between cost, performance, and footprint
  • high-speed, record-low-power analog-to-digital converters (ADC) in ultra-scaled CMOS
  • new air interface design and corresponding algorithms for high-performance and low-power radio solutions above 100 GHz

Ultralow-power wireless solutions for the IoT

IoT and sensor networks call for dedicated solutions, for example sensor networks that work with very low power and can live forever on a battery (or even no battery at all). Ever smaller systems where everything is integrated on silicon.

Imec has an extensive IP library and the expertise and drive of our experts to find the best, future-proof solution for your wireless connectivity challenge. Here are some of the technologies we are working on:

Deterministic end-to-end connectivity

No matter how large the capacity of your network infrastructure is, a major concern is to assure deterministic Quality of Service (QoS) guarantees, especially between time-sensitive or critical end-to-end applications. This is all the more challenging when applications are running on mobile or wireless devices in dynamic and complex environments.

End-to-end connections require seamless interoperability between heterogeneous (wired, wireless, optical) network technologies. And to achieve deterministic QoS, a strict timing control is of utmost importance. Imec has therefore extensively researched time-sensitive networking across multiple wired and wireless technologies such as Ethernet, PON, cellular 4G/5G/xG, Wi-Fi, BLE, IoT, ...

If you want to develop or improve professional solutions that require deterministic end-to-end connectivity, imec is your ideal partner. Our offer includes:

  • deep knowledge on high-accuracy time synchronization and time-aware networking across the whole protocol stack (from PHY to APP) and interoperability across heterogeneous network technologies
  • extensive experience with programmable networking tools such as software-defined networks, software-defined radios, and network function virtualization
  • advanced techniques for monitoring, QoS verification, prediction, and scheduling supported by AI/ML
  • a proven track record in end-to-end system integration, rapid prototyping, and benchmarking thanks to advanced remotely controlled wired/wireless test infrastructures with state-of-the-art wired and wireless technologies deployed in realistic environments (home, office, industrial, city, vehicular)

Design and fabricate your advanced connectivity technologies with imec

For the future of connectivity, the enabling technologies involve high-capacity/high-speed backbones, high-capacity wireless connections, and low-power sensor networks. For each of these, imec has unique, future-proof R&D tracks, mature IP, design capabilities, and access to prototyping and fabrication.

Here are a few of the many collaboration possibilities:

Get in touch