/Photonic interposer for chip-to-chip communication

Photonic interposer for chip-to-chip communication

PhD - Leuven | More than two weeks ago

The goal of this PhD is to evaluate the performance of different photonic interposer options for chip-to-chip communication, and ultimately develop new ones.

The progress of artificial intelligence requires ever increasing compute system (“exascale computing”), as demonstrated by recent industrial announcements (Dojo from Tesla and Ponte-Vecchio from Intel). As massively parallel computing units are integrated to meet these demands, these large systems become interconnect-limited.  Photonic interposers have emerged as one of the most likely candidate technologies to solve the bandwidth bottleneck of these systems. Several high-tech start-up/scale-up companies (Lightmatter, Avicena) have recently announced that they are developing such photonic interposers, and diverse options are being considered. A systematic study combining photonics and system expertise is thus required to evaluate, compare and develop new photonic interposer concepts. In this context, the PhD candidate would investigate the following aspects:

  • Look at different possible interposer integration strategies, the possible building blocks and materials, and make high-level assessments on integration density, bandwidth density (Gbps/mm periphery) and even ballpark cost estimates.
  • Develop system/circuit compact models for each element of the photonics communication links, including optical couplers, LASERs, modulators (based on electro-absorption, resonators or interferometers), photodiodes and auxiliary electronic circuits (drivers, trans-impedance amplifiers). These models can be developed in Python, Verilog-A and other languages relevant for optical link modeling.
  • Interact with experts from the optical IO program to better understand the advantages and limitations of each component. Run Lumerical/TCAD simulations to understand the operations of these devices and what performance can be expected.
  • Understand the system aspects, considering different applications (artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, low power), in collaboration with the STCO program from IMEC.
  • With all these elements, review systematically the different options for photonic interposer and conclude on their performance.
  • Develop new photonic interposer concepts, leveraging IMEC knowledge in optical devices/system/3D-integration.


Required background: Photonic, chip-to-chip communication

Type of work: Modeling (30%), Simulation (30%), communication with photonic/system experts (30%)

Supervisor: Wim Bogaerts

Co-supervisor: Nicolas Pantano

Daily advisor: Gaspard Hiblot

The reference code for this position is 2023-006. Mention this reference code on your application form.

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