Silicon Photonics Group introduces a photonics pathway in undergraduate education
Silicon photonics is revolutionising the Datacom industry, compelling educators to modernise the way this technology is taught to the next generation of engineers.
Photonics, known to many as 'the electronics of the 21st century', has become a ubiquitous technology in modern society, impacting many fields and addressing several grand challenges.
Silicon photonics, in particular, is an important field since it leverages Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor(CMOS) technology and is being increasingly implemented in data centres, LIDAR systems and sensing applications. As silicon photonics continues to rise, there is a growing demand for employees with a broad skill set, encompassing everything from photonics and electronics to process and software engineering.
Therefore, it's imperative that we provide students with opportunities to acquire skills in modelling, design, fabrication, characterisation and analysis of photonic devices and circuits.
Since the University of Southampton has one of the best electronics departments in the U.K. and a world leading Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) with extensive academic cleanroom and laboratory facilities, we in the Silicon Photonics Group were motivated to take advantage of such an environment and introduce a photonics pathway in undergraduate education.
The Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) department have recently introduced two photonics modules where students complete lab simulations, many for the first time, where they are able to picture abstract concepts from lectures.
A virtual lab environment is being developed to enhance the lab experience and enable students to familiarise themselves with the equipment and process prior to entering the physical labs. Student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, highlighting the blended theory and practical approach being particularly popular.