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Photonic Integrated Circuits 1

A deep-dive into fabless photonics design: master industry software to model, simulate, layout, and error-check a photonic integrated circuit for high-tech applications; create a verified submission to the world-class AIM Photonics fabrication facility.

Photonic Integrated Circuits 1
This course is archived
Estimated 8 weeks
15–20 hours per week
Instructor-led on a course schedule
Optional upgrade available

About this course

Skip About this course

To earn a Verified Certificate for this course, you must agree to the terms and conditions of End-User License Agreements for integrated photonics industry software (EPDA) and a process design kit (PDK) library, as accessed via the AIM Photonics Virtual Design Center online cloud computing website.

In addition to the Verified Certificate for the course, the registration fee includes two hundred hours of user access to the Design Center, for verified learners to work online with the industry-standard software and library to create an integrated photonics circuit design project. Because of this special inclusion, financial aid or other discounts will not be available for this course.

Photonics Integrated Circuits (PICs) are analogs to the computer microprocessor chip, poised to partner light-manipulating optical devices and transistor-based electronics for a vast array of modern applications in cloud computing, high-speed mobile wireless, smart sensing, augmented imaging, and quantum communications. PIC circuits create, guide, sort, and read information as signals of light, routed through a dizzying maze of hundreds of devices packed in an area about a millimeter on its side.

How can you design a circuit brimming with so much device density and interconnectedness, all by yourself? How can you do this design reliably, time and time again? How do you ensure your circuit is consistent with the design of others, so that you can both interpret each other’s chip architectures and applications?

Welcome to fabless photonics, the new paradigm for designing high-fidelity PICs.

This course introduces you to PIC design using a standardized Process Design Kit (PDK) library as your builders’ rulebook, and Electronic Photonic Design Automation (EPDA) software as your architecture tools. You’ll be guided through a step-by-step sequence giving you mastery to

  • model silicon photonic devices;
  • simulate a PIC;
  • layout the PIC chip; and
  • Design Rule Check (DRC) to revise layout into a final blueprint for PIC fabrication.

The course concludes with the creation of a verified “tape-out” design blueprint, ready for potential submission to a Multi-Project Wafer run at the AIM Photonics Institute—the world’s leading 300mm fabrication facility for high performance silicon PICs.

The course is structured around the design of a basic transceiver, and starts off with an overview of fabless PIC design followed by a review of passive photonic devices (waveguides, bends, splitters/combiners, interferometers). You’re then walked through the process of designing the transceiver chip with a focus on two active devices (electro-optic modulator, photodetector). The course highlights device compact models as the PDK methodology for flexible simulation and layout of PIC chip designs, and rigorously trains you in EPDA industry-standard software.

The course runs for an initial three weeks of instruction (self-paced video lectures, homework, design project milestones, and a weekly synchronous webinar); followed by a one-week hiatus during which verified learners continue to have cloud access to the Design Center; continues with three more weeks of instruction; and concludes with one week focused solely on final project design. Verified learners may elect to create a nominal PIC circuit design project in tandem with course instruction; or propose their own original circuit design (compatible with the AIM Education PDK component library), subject to instructor approval.

Completion of the course shows your professional engineer-level design aptitude in fabless integrated photonics, for leading edge industrial applications poised to transform modern manufacturing and the global economy in the next two decades.

At a glance

  • Institution: MITx
  • Subject: Engineering
  • Level: Advanced
  • Prerequisites:

    A background in silicon photonics, fiber optics, or III-V semiconductors is recommended, but not required. Proficiency in linear algebra and calculus will enhance understanding of design concepts.

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English

What you'll learn

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  • An in-depth exposure to the AIM Photonics Education PDK and its design guides.
  • Proficiency in EPDA software and how to assess your future design software needs.
  • How to model photonic devices, and create compact models for them.
  • How to simulate, layout, and DRC-check a PIC.
  • How to create modular building blocks and address performance trade-offs in fabless circuit design.

About the instructors

Frequently Asked Questions

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How long does this course run?
Photonic Integrated Circuits 1 runs over an eight week period. The course timeline begins with three weeks of instruction; a one week hiatus follows, during which verified learners have continued online access to the AIM Design Center cloud platform, and can practice with the integrated circuit design software; the course continues with an increasing focus on the final design project, due at the end of eight weeks.

Can I get an academic discount for this course?
An academic discount is not available for this course. The registration cost for Photonic Integrated Circuits 1 includes two hundred hours of access time to the AIM Design Center cloud platform, so that verified learners can work with online industry-standard software to complete their integrated circuit design project. There is no discount option for the two hundred hours of access time to this cloud platform.

Is there a textbook for this course?
There is no textbook assigned for this course. However, the textbook Silicon PhotonicsDesign: From Devices toSystems (by Lukas Chrostowski and Michael Hochberg) is a helpful reference for supplementing and fortifying your understanding of many key concepts introduced here.

How do I access the EPDA software and Education PDK electronic library?
The EPDA software and Education PDK are securely stored on an online cloud service, outside of the MITx course site. Only verified students, who have registered for a course certificate, will be allowed to access this external website via a secure login. Students will not be allowed to upload anything to this cloud service, nor will they be allowed to download anything from it. To complete secure login access, verified students must agree each time they log in to End-User License terms and conditions for responsible conduct to work with the EPDA software and the Education PDK.

If I only want to audit the course, can I still access the EPDA software and Education PDK electronic library?
Auditors are not allowed to access the external online cloud service, they will not be able to work with the EPDA software design tools or the Education PDK library.

As a verified student, will my final design tape-out file really be ready—in principle—to submit to an AIM Photonics fabrication run?
Yes, successful completion of this course requires verified students to submit a final design tape-out electronic file that could—in principle—be submitted to an AIM Photonics Institute fabrication run, the very next day. The certificate you earn for this course is awarded for successful completion of a design project, comprised of a tape-out electronic file and a written report.

Is there any opportunity for me to participate with my final design tape-out in an AIM Photonics fabrication run?
For verified students who have successfully completed this course, the best tape-out designs submitted on the online cloud service may be selected for submission to an AIM Photonics Multi-Project Wafer (MPW) fabrication run. Please inquire of the course lecturers and course manager if you’ll like to learn more.

When will I receive my certificate?
Upon completion of the course, submitted design projects will be scrupulously reviewed and graded over a several-week period, after which you’ll be awarded your certificate.

More about this course

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Image courtesy M.L. Fanto & S.F. Preble, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). AIM Photonics Academy education chips (designed by Rochester Institute of Technology, Boston University and University of Rochester)

Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners residing in one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. edX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.

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