After founding Bookham and chairing Kotura, Rickman founded Rockley Photonics in 2013 to address the expanding markets in the data center and sensing with the new economic possibilities of fabless manufacturing. "We went to the development foundries and production foundries who were ready to work with us," Rickman said.
The company has now started shipping first examples of its first product, a Transmit-Receive Optical Sub-Assembly (TROSA) for data communication that operates at 100Gbps. Rockley has spent the time up until this product launch creating a silicon photonics platform but that does not mean that every photonic operation can and should be made in silicon, Rickman said
The platform should comprise waveguides on silicon, but also III-V lasers, optical fiber self-aligning insertion structures, microelectronics and packaging. Rickman argues that the silicon photonics platform should be essentially planar, easily automated for low cost but also use the best in class manufacturing processes for different functions.
Rockley hasn't yet revealed who is manufacturing the various parts of its photonics platform or performing the assembly operations but Rickman points out the second-tier foundries are more amenable to development collaboration.
Rickman goes further to indicate that many of the larger foundries are approaching silicon photonics with a different philosophy to Rockley's and one that ultimately he believes will not succeed.