Will $600 Million Invested into AIM Photonics Improve the Profitability of Optics Suppliers?



LightCounting’s Research Notes from the OIDA workshop on State of the Art Integrated Photonics


he $600 million investment into the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics) announced in July 2015 set an inspiring mood at the OIDA event, held in Washington DC on November 3rd. This project was initiated by a $110 million investment by the US government and has attracted close to $500 million of matching funds from the industry. These funds will be spent over the next 5 years to develop an ecosystem for integrated photonics.

Figure 1: Clean room facility at SUNY’s University at Albany

The prime awardee of the project is SUNY University at Albany’s 135,000 square feet 300mm silicon, Class 1 capable clean room facility in Albany NY. This facility has been the leading research center for the silicon semiconductor industry in the US for many years. The AIM Photonics project intends to use this facility to create an eco-system for next-generation integrated optical manufacturing for communications, sensing and other applications. Silicon photonics technology is clearly at the center of this project, which is formally open to other platforms via facilities provided by industrial partners. For example, Infinera plans to open its fab for projects related to InP-based integration, as long as these do not compete with Infinera’s core business.

The expectations for optical integration include enabling new products and reducing manufacturing costs of existing ones. This raises a question of what are the main factors defining the manufacturing cost of optical components and modules. Most of such information is proprietary, but these are the prime suspects:

  • Fiber coupling
  • Packaging
  • Fixed cost of wafer fabs
  • Testing
  • Product development cost

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Recently published reports:
  1. State of the Optical Communications Industry, May 2015
  2. High-speed Datacenter Interconnects, June 2015
  3. Next-Generation FTTX Optics, July 2015
  4. Optical Communications Market Forecast, August 2015
  5. Quarterly Market Update Report (September 2015)

Coming soon:
  1. Mobile Fronthaul Optics Report & Forecast, November 2015
  2. Active Optical Cables and Embedded Optical Modulest, December 2015
  3. Quarterly Market Update Report (December 2015)
  4. Market Opportunity for Optical Integration Technologies, including Silicon Photonics (January 2016)

LightCounting is a leading optical communications market research company, offering semiannual market updates, forecasts, and state-of-the-industry reports based on its analysis of primary research with dozens of leading module, component, and system vendors as well as service providers and other users. LightCounting is the optical communications market’s first choice source for the accurate, detailed, and relevant information necessary for doing business in today’s highly competitive environment. For more information, visit: or follow us on Twitter at @LightCounting.