February 10, 2023
With this Dear Colleague letter (DCL), the Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems (ECCS) within the Directorate for Engineering (ENG) and the Division of Translational Innovation (TI) within the Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) of the National Science Foundation continue to encourage submission to their programs proposals by academic researchers and small businesses to explore innovative exploratory and translational research in all aspects of integrated photonics that utilize the current silicon and silicon nitride photonics capabilities resident in AIM Photonics. Proposals supported through this program will leverage the AIM design tools, pilot photonics foundry, test, and packaging capabilities.
Please see below a brief introduction of AIM Photonics and examples of the research project opportunities that it can enable. Then follow the step-by-step instructions in the section on Project Preparation for use of AIM Photonics capabilities, and at the end of this document the Proposal Submission to NSF procedures. Note that the NSF small business community is now served within the recently established TIP Directorate.
AIM PHOTONICS - The American Institute of Manufacturing of Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics) (https://www.aimphotonics.com) was established in July 2015 by the U.S. government under Department of Defense (DoD) leadership as a manufacturing innovation institute to advance integrated photonics. AIM Photonics was recently awarded a new $321 Million, seven-year cooperative agreement through 2028. Through a close partnership with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Military Services, AIM Photonics will continue to advance integrated photonics capabilities and the US ecosystem, enabling a wide array of next-generation semiconductor and microelectronics products while also seeking to grow into new areas. AIM Photonics is a public-private-partnership that focuses the nation's premiere capabilities and expertise to capture and mature critical manufacturing domestic capability for integrated photonics. The Institute's mission is to seek to advance integrated photonic circuit manufacturing technology development while simultaneously providing access to state-of-the-art fabrication, packaging, and testing capabilities for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), academia and the government; create an adaptive, integrated photonic circuit workforce capable of meeting industry needs to increase domestic competitiveness; and meet commercial, defense and civilian agency needs by building a commercially sustainable ecosystem in this burgeoning technology area.
Research projects utilizing the AIM Photonics fabrication process technologies via multi-project wafer (MPW) runs should have an objective to bring a specific innovation to integrated photonics circuits and components or to demonstrate a new approach that uses integrated photonics as its differentiator. Examples of such challenges may include:
- Research into new applications of Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs) that have promise of breakthrough performance due to the use of an integrated photonics component;
- New devices that are realizable within AIM Photonics standardized integrated silicon photonics processes;
- PIC implementations that have innovative contributions to advancements of photonics circuits (i.e., low power, greater bandwidths and dynamic ranges, better tolerances, new topologies, etc.);
- Innovative design approaches and new models of integrated photonics devices/circuits; and
- Materials and attachment technologies for incorporating integrated photonics into novel packages.
For researchers seeking to utilize AIM Photonics capabilities, the first step in engaging with AIM Photonics should start with filling out an Information Request Form that can be found at https://www.aimphotonics.com/info-request. AIM Photonics offers access to multi project wafer (MPW) runs and MPW details and schedules are available through AIM Photonics at (https://www.aimphotonics.com/mpw). Information about the AIM Photonics process development kits (PDKs) are available on the website. The request form for PDK access can be found at https://www.aimphotonics.com/pdk-access-request.
Academic researchers who plan on utilizing the capabilities of AIM Photonics may submit unsolicited proposals to the ECCS Electronics, Photonics, and Magnetic Devices (EPMD) core program via Research.gov or Grants.gov at any time with no deadline (https://www.nsf.gov/div/index.jsp?org=ECCS). Proposals responding to a specific solicitation must follow the solicitation's specified deadline date. Submission as CAREER proposals can be accepted by ECCS, with the solicitation deadline in July each year. All submitted proposals must adhere to the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG). Requests for supplemental funding to existing ECCS awards should first be discussed with the cognizant NSF program director and may be submitted at any time.