VCSEL is a new consortium based on novel and state-of-the-art technologies, established with the support of the Israel Innovation Authority . This consortium is part of the MAGNET program of the Technology Infrastructure Division of the Innovation Authority. Within the program industry and academia cooperate for three years for developing generic and novel technologies aimed at promoting innovation for a specific industry segment or segments in Israel. The motivation to develop VCSELs (vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers) stems from their unique inherent characteristics such as miniature size, design flexibility, reliability, low-cost mass production and processing, wide range wavelength, single or multi spatial mode operation, cost-effective applications and solutions, power scalability, and excellent beam properties which allows for beam manipulation and coupling into optical fibers.
Hence, VCSELs are considered the main engine that boosts many applications. These include, for example, fast data communication in data centers, smartphone proximity sensing and ID recognition, high power pump sources for high power lasers, light sources for miniature sensors and chip-scale atomic clocks, consumer electronics (mice, printers), automotive and transportation as well as defense and aerospace applications, with an estimated global market volume of $3.8 B in 2024 and above $6.0 B by 2028, above that of edge emitting lasers (EEL) which is expected to reach about $5 B by that time . The VCSEL market is already larger than that of all other lasers combined.
The vision of the Consortium is to promote the Israeli industry and manufacturing eco-system for enabling high valued mid-scale production types of the most important type of all semiconductor lasers – the VCSELs. This will result in accelerating the Israeli photonics industry growth and making the Israeli industry independent of the currently-diminishing foreign suppliers. Moreover, the vision is also to establish a world-class VCSEL activity by the combination of advanced design capabilities, epitaxial-growth technologies and fabrication. These combined efforts, in collaboration with the Israeli academic partners and with strong ties to customers from the Israeli industry, will establish a high-level Israeli capability in VCSEL technology, which will serve the entire community.
This will be achieved by the synergy between relevant leading industries and world-leading academic groups towards ground-breaking achievements.
The Consortium main goals are as follows:
To obtain optimal synergy and to achieve our goals, a continuous and synchronous working chain has been established. This has been done by allocating industries and academia into a matrix structure of four functional working groups (WG) while another WG is allocated for coordination, management, and administration.
The Consortium members include several prominent leading industries and world-leaders from academia, focused on the main venues of the proposed Consortium mission. These WGs are 1- VCSELs design, fabrication and characterization (Technion, Nvidia, SCD), 2- Ultra high-speed VCSELs (Nvidia, Technion, Galil), 3- High power and brightness VCSEL arrays (SCD, Technion, Galil, Civan, Hebrew University), and 4 – VCSELs for atomic clocks (AccuBeat, Nvidia, Galil, Technion). Three industries have an observer status within the consortium: Nova, LightSolver, and Elbit/Elop.
The results of the Consortium R&D activities will provide a “quantum leap” in terms of novel technologies and crucial applications vital to economic accelerated growth engines in Israel. It is expected to establish an Israeli ecosystem for designing, fabrication, and characterization of VCSELs in support of the entire photonic community.
The partners participating in the consortium are convinced that an independent Israeli VCSEL related capabilities are crucial and that the combination of the industrial partners and academia comprising the consortium should bring Israel, in the coming three years (2021-2024), to a position where the industries will no longer be dependent on foreign VCSEL suppliers who cannot, or do not agree to supply crucial needs.
Dr. Yehoshua Kalisky
Dr. Yoram Karni