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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R003076/1
Title: Rockley Photonics and the University of Southampton: A Prosperity Partnership
Principal Investigator: Reed, Professor GT
Other Investigators:
Mashanovich, Professor G Thomson, Professor D Gardes, Professor F
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
The Rockley Group UK
Department: Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC)
Organisation: University of Southampton
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 November 2017 Ends: 31 July 2023 Value (£): 2,220,207
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Optoelect. Devices & Circuits
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Communications
Electronics Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
24 May 2017 Prosperity Partnerships Interviews Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
According to the Cisco's 2016 Global Cloud Index, hyperscale data centers will grow from 259 in number at the end of 2015 to 485 by 2020 and will represent 47 percent of all installed data center servers by 2020. This extraordinary growth prediction will exasperate an industry already struggling to cope with the costs and power requirements of existing IT infrastructure technology. Rockley Photonics is developing a highly scalable optical fibre networking and packet switch solution for cloud datacenters. The heart of the solution will be the company's TopangaTM optical fiber interfaced packet switch application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC). With the TopangaTM ASIC, one can network up to hundreds of thousands of servers together in cloud datacenters at a fraction of the current capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operating expenditure (OPEX - mainly power), achieving greatly superior server utilization and lower communication latency required for emerging virtual reality and machine learning applications. Rockley Photonics TopangaTM for the first time in the industry uses silicon photonics chips incorporating wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) integrated with the switch ASIC to directly bring high bandwidths of data on and off the ASIC. These chips use micro-scale silicon photonic opto-electronic elements (e.g. modulators) to perform the electrical-to-opical conversions with new levels of compactness and high densities pitch-matched to the ASICs to reduce electrical connection length almost to zero.

This proposed Prosperity Partnership brings together the UK's premier industry and academic partners in the field of Silicon Photonics, Rockley Photonics and The Silicon Photonics Group at the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), University of Southampton. The management team at Rockley have already been involved in 2 Silicon Photonics start-up companies and now Rockley Photonics is pioneering the 3rd generation of this emerging technology. The ORC team have demonstrated numerous world firsts in the field, and are known around the globe as a pioneering team in the field of Silicon Photonics. Together these teams will form a formidable Prosperity Partnership that will work together to transform the way in which data centre architectures handle vast quantities of data by developing novel photonic solutions to the modulation and distribution of optical signals, and the overall switching architectures. We anticipate significant impact from the funding, should we be successful.

The Silicon Photonics Group at the University of Southampton are well known internationally for pioneering work in the field since 1989. In 2012 the group moved to Southampton University where the head count has since grown by a factor of x3 to more than 40 researchers in total. Not only do the group have a large number of key collaborators within the Southampton environment, but also play a key role in running and using the clean room complex, putting them in a unique position worldwide in having design, fabrication, prototyping and testing facilities/expertise. The investment of more than £120 Million in the cleanroom complex has recently been enhanced by a £3million EPSRC investment in a photolithography scanning capability which enables fast prototyping, ideal for facilitating disruptive optical device and optical circuit research.

Together the combined teams will develop the devices and photonic circuits necessary for future generations of Rockley Photonics products.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.soton.ac.uk