Skoltech proposed a national Cooperation Project to achieve technology excellence in optically enriched systems

The proposed 5-year Cooperation Project aims to create a research infrastructure facilitating the development and implementation of the integrated photonics technology for optically enriched systems of generation 2025-2035 by integrating or replacing the high-speed microelectronic components with their photonic counterparts. The target application scope includes the areas essential for the digital transformation of society, such as IT, sensor technology, telecom, healthcare and medicine, security and others.

The need to launch the Cooperation Project is dictated by the fact that the development and implementation of the integrated photonics technology is a highly challenging task involving a host of organizational, financial, scientific and engineering issues.

According to Skoltech’s President, Alexander Kuleshov, “the tasks as complex as this one require a concerted effort of leading research organizations and manufacturing companies and proactive government involvement and support, as attested by multiple examples of national research centers and cooperation projects in other countries, such as FMD group of the Fraunhofer Society in Germany, the University of Paris-Saclay in France and others. Skoltech is a new type of Russian university boasting an extensive international network that facilitates collaboration and helps attract world-class experts.”


Since integrated photonics is an emerging technology, Russia is only slightly behind the curve in this field and has enough scientific potential to conduct frontier research and bring its results to the global market. This suggests that right now Russia is facing a unique opportunity to gain a competitive position on the global photonic integrated circuits (PIC) market.

Optically enriched systems exhibit their key strengths, such as compact size, low power consumption and an amazingly low cost, when made with the use of PIC. In this sense, fostering integrated photonics along with microelectronics and quantum technology appears as a particularly promising area which will likely move forwards at a dizzying pace, like microelectronics did in the second half of the 20th century. This said, integrated photonics may soon spark off a new technology revolution.

The proposed Cooperation Project is about establishing a national shared facility with state-of-the-art equipment and infrastructure, including ISO 4-6 cleanrooms, measurement facilities and labs. The center will be deployed at Skoltech, the Project coordinator and main contributor.

Alexey Denisov, Head of Skoltech’s Shared Facilities Office, says: “This setting is only natural, as Skoltech has already launched and is successfully operating a suite of cutting-edge measurement tools for metrological support of PIC technological processes and measurements. The equipment is operated by a team of highly skilled professionals with years of international experience in similar projects. Moreover, Skoltech has already allocated space at its Campus that meet the vibration and electromagnetic radiation protection and other high-level requirements to accommodate the new research and technology infrastructure.”

As Skoltech is deeply integrated in the Skolkovo Innovation Center ecosystem, the Cooperation Project will benefit from unique opportunities for interacting with Russian and international technology companies.

The on-going collaboration between Skoltech and Sberbank, one of Skoltech’s founders, will enable access to one of Europe’s largest and Russia’s largest data center operating in Skolkovo and boasting tremendous HPC capabilities for dealing with a variety of demanding tasks related to AI, image processing, materials search and design, photonics and the like.

The Cooperation Project milestones are reflected in Skoltech’s roadmap for the development of optically enriched IT, sensor and quantum systems of generation 2025-2035. The first four-year phase aims to build (complete) the infrastructure for full-cycle design, manufacturing and testing of integrated photonics devices to be used as components in optically enriched systems which, in turn,  will be used in several technology areas and end-to-end technologies targeted by the national program “Digital Economy of the Russian Federation”: AI, quantum computing, quantum communications, quantum sensor technology and metrology, wireless technologies, new manufacturing technologies and the Internet of Things. This is yet another proof that optically saturated systems are of vital importance for attaining the target indicators of the relevant roadmaps.

The advancement of end-to-end technologies will lead to revolutionary growth of high tech markets. For example, making a photon quantum system in the form of a compact PIC will bring fundamentally new technologies and solutions to Rostec, Rosatom and Russian Railways which build their quantum systems based mainly on discrete photonics. End-to-end technologies will be a perfect replacement in terms of scaling, miniaturization, enhancing the reliability and reducing the cost of the end product.

Currently, Skoltech is a partner in two consortiums that were awarded RVC grants having won the competition among the leading research centers of the National Project “Digital Economy”: Russian Railways / ITMO University / Skoltech consortium which develops a digital hardware-software solution “Quantum Communication Platform of the Digital Economy” and Rosatom / Russian Quantum Center / Lebedev Physical Institute of RAS / Skoltech consortium dealing with quantum computing, universal quantum computers, ion-based quantum computers, quantum algorithms and quantum software.

The financing requirement for the Skoltech-based national Cooperation Project is 26.9 billion rubles for 2020-2024. The Project is split into two phases. The first phase (2020-2023) with a budget of 9.2 billion rubles will focus on creating a nationwide cooperation infrastructure to enable the development and implementation of integrated photonics technologies for new generation optically saturated systems. Provided that the first phase targets are successfully achieved by 2022, the second phase (2022-2024) will aim to set up small-scale contract-based manufacturing with a volume of 17.7 billion rubles, in order to bring the most promising and marketable information, sensor and quantum systems to the Russian and global markets.

According to preliminary estimates, high tech projects should help fully pay back the investments into the research infrastructure by no later than 2028-2030 provided that the project is successfully completed and all the key indicators are attained, i.e. the small-scale contract-based manufacturing facility is set up and used to its full capacity.

It is planned to establish a Science and Technology Council which will ensure efficient management of the research, scientific, engineering and innovation activities within the Cooperation Project. The Council will group representatives of Skoltech and research and production organizations involved in the Project, federal executive bodies, public corporations and companies and private businesses.


Contact information:
Skoltech Communications
+7 (495) 280 14 81

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