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Biomedical Optics & Medical Imaging

Andrew Rickman: Silicon Photonics: Bigger is Better

A plenary presentation from SPIE Photonics West 2018.

9 March 2018, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/2.3201803.12

Andrew Rickman, Rockley Photonics Ltd (UK)In this plenary session, Andrew Rickman of Rockley Photonics Ltd, explains how over the past 30 years silicon photonics has evolved into a volume technology supporting mainstream commercial applications. Though we have seen a proliferation of new approaches, the attributes required for commercial success remain the same as they were three decades ago: volume manufacturability, optical power efficiency, and high-signalling bandwidth.

Comparing to the evolution of the silicon microelectronics industry several decades earlier however, in the history of silicon photonics we see one key difference: for electronic integrated circuit design, reductions in process node geometry have generally always contributed to advancing the goals of the product, leading to a conclusion that smaller is better.

In contrast, for silicon photonics, reducing process geometries have introduced complexities that can inversely impact manufacturability, optical power efficiency and fiber-optic packaging. As microelectronics races to progressively smaller nodes the industry faces a question: what makes for a leading photonics platform? Perhaps bigger is better!

Andrew Rickman is the founder, CEO and Chairman of Rockley Photonics Limited based in the UK and Pasadena, CA. Rockley Photonics is a rapidly expanding company, formed to develop novel optical packet switching solutions for mega datacenter networks. Andrew was previously the founder, CEO and Chairman of Bookham Inc. (now called Oclaro Inc.).

He founded Bookham in 1988 and grew the company from a start-up to a FTSE100 company. More recently, Rickman was Chairman of Kotura Inc., and was instrumental in its development and ultimately successful sale in 2013 to Mellanox Technologies, Ltd.

He has a mechanical engineering degree from Imperial College, London; a PhD in silicon photonics from Surrey University; an MBA from Cranfield University. He was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Millennium Honours list for services to the telecommunications industry.