AES Semigas


20 April 2023

Vector Photonics’ £1m ZEUS project to commercialize 1W artificial intelligence PCSEL

Vector Photonics Ltd (which was spun off from Scotland’s University of Glasgow in 2020, based on research led by professor Richard Hogg) has won ZEUS, a £1m industrial research project to commercialize its 1Watt, all-semiconductor photonic-crystal surface-emitting lasers (PCSELs) for artificial intelligence (AI) applications.

The ZEUS project leverages Vector Photonics’ existing datacoms PCSEL commercialization work and is a collaborative fund split comprising £700,000 from the UK Government agency Innovate UK (which provides funding and support for business innovation as part of UK Research and Innovation) and £300,000 from the UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund (UKI2S).

The AI PCSEL will have the increase in computer processing power necessary to overcome the data transmission bottleneck faced by existing AI solutions. At 1W, the PCSEL’s optical power will be at least ten times that of incumbent distributed feedback (DFB) lasers, which currently operate at a maximum of 100mW. So, where existing AI chips use multiple DFB lasers to achieve a single data-transmission channel of suitable optical power, Vector Photonics’ PCSEL is being developed to support up to 20 data channels per chip. Vector Photonics claims that PCSELs are increasingly the only realistic enabler of next-generation AI data transmission, where DFBs are approaching their practical limit.

“ZEUS is a 24-month project covering the design, simulation, manufacture and test of a 1Watt AI PCSEL,” notes chief technology officer Dr Richard Taylor. “The full impact of a 1Watt PCSEL on AI chip design is not yet quantified, as the entire architecture of the chips and systems will change, but it brings countless manufacturing and energy-saving benefits,” he adds. “Power consumption, heat and latency are reduced; the PCSEL’s symmetrical far-field requires less operational power for equivalent performance, so a further power reduction can be expected here; and the vastly reduced laser count per chip makes manufacture simpler and the chip smaller, which will undoubtedly improve yield and reliability.”

See related items:

Vector Photonics commercializing uncooled 1W, 1310nm CW PCSEL for cloud data centers

Tags: Laser diodes



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