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Publisher's Note: Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of watching SNS Member Michael Hochberg preside at the opening ceremonies of the Institute for Photonic Integration, a new facility at the University of Washington co-funded by Intel, DARPA, the Air Force Office of Sponsored Research, and a few other foresighted groups. At that time, he also described the Institute's new OPSIS program, which is intended to allow developers from all financial backgrounds to begin working in chips that operate on both electronic and photonic circuits.
Michael's (and his partners') success in getting this integration into systems on a chip on silicon, and so allowing photonics to link into existing wafer fab technologies and tools, is critical to opening up the age of photonics in computing. Although, as he notes, photons are difficult to manage in some obvious ways (hey, they have no rest mass, what can you expect?), by most measures they beat electrons hands down they weigh nothing, have no friction, do not self-interact, do not interact with one another, can occupy the same physical space at the same time, and well, you get the picture. If electrons are hot, light is magic.
In this piece, Michael has cleanly laid out the remaining near-term challenges in this work, and the opportunities available to the development community now. Are you ready for the next revolution in computing? mra.