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30 April 2018

POET’s 2017 revenue up 50% year-on-year, driven by sales of photonic sensors for test & measurement

© Semiconductor Today Magazine / Juno PublishiPicture: Disco’s DAL7440 KABRA laser saw.

For full-year 2017, POET Technologies Inc of Toronto, Canada and San Jose, CA, USA — a designer and manufacturer of optoelectronic devices, including light sources, passive waveguides and photonic integrated circuits (PIC) for the sensing and datacom markets — has reported revenue of US$2.79m, up 50% on 2016’s US$1.86m (which represented just seven months of contribution from the DenseLight subsidiary in Singapore, acquired in May 2016), reflecting higher sales of photonic sensors for test & measurement applications.

Gross margin has risen from 49% to 52%. Net loss before taxes has been cut slightly from US$13.4m ($0.06 per share) in 2016 (which included non-cash stock-based compensation of US$4.1m and depreciation & amortization of US$1.5m) to US$13.1m ($0.05 per share) in 2017 (which included non-cash stock-based compensation of US$3.2m and depreciation & amortization of US$2.3m). Capital investment in plant, equipment and patents dropped from $1.3m to $1m.

Also, in March, POET completed a ‘bought deal’ public offering, resulting in gross proceeds of US$10.8m (C$13.8m).

Business and technology update

During 2017 POET began focusing its resources on developing photonic solutions using a hybrid integration approach, which combines its indium phosphide (InP)-based photonics chips and its dielectric-based waveguide devices into a single package.

Its approach to hybrid integration utilizing the Optical Interposer Platform was borne by the unique capabilities acquired through its acquisitions of DenseLight Semiconductor and BB Photonics in 2016. This new approach targeted the same objective, i.e. replacing discrete high-cost passive optical components with lower-cost embedded devices and proven wafer-level semiconductor process and assembly technologies.

Using embedded dielectric passive devices and advanced packaging techniques, POET says that it can lower the cost of datacoms transceivers for data-center operators and telecom applications. By late 2017, the firm had validated the potential to dramatically reduce the cost of conventional transceivers through wafer-scale integration of photonics devices and passive waveguides into a single multi-chip module (MCM) package, leading to the announcement of POET’s Optical Interposer platform in January.

“During 2017, we made significant progress across several areas of the business,” says CEO Dr Suresh Venkatesan. “We increased revenue 50% year-over-year with the increased shipments of light sources for sensing applications. Additionally, we recorded about $1.7m in credits from the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) in support of our ongoing R&D efforts at our DenseLight facility,” he adds.

“From a technology perspective, we achieved a real breakthrough in designing and demonstrating key elements of the POET Optical Interposer. It is a true platform technology that is readily scalable for applications in data communication transceivers that undergo rapid evolutions in standards and generations. It is also flexible enough to address critical applications in other markets such as automotive LIDAR and high-performance computing. Placing photonic components in close proximity to data generators like ASICs and microprocessors has been an industry objective for decades. Among the many difficult challenges, thermal management and reliability are ones that the Optical Interposer platform can potentially address,” continues Venkatesan.

“While using the POET Optical Interposer platform for photonics assembly provides thermal management and reliability advantages, its primary advantage is cost, which is the basis for competition in a standards-driven industry. We achieve low cost by employing proven semiconductor ‘known good die’ assembly, testing & packaging techniques to the optical components of the transceiver. Our architecture is unique, allowing us to both manufacture the passive interposer assembly platform at low cost in a factory that is compatible with mainstream silicon semiconductor fabrication and to place active devices on this platform without requiring complex alignment and expensive micro-optical components. Further, our waveguides embedded in the interposer function as multiplexers/demultiplexers, spot-size converters and guides, and are independent of the active devices that determine the speed of the device. The waveguides for a 100G optical engine are the same low cost as those for a 400G optical engine. Furthermore, there is little incremental cost in adding additional communication channels to the platform. This is one example of the scalability of the POET Optical Interposer,” he adds.

“Most recently, we’ve taken additional meaningful steps toward commercializing POET’s interposer technology, including our announced master collaboration agreement with [Malaysia-based wafer foundry] SilTerra for the co-development of the waveguide manufacturing process flow, consignment of equipment and entry into a wafer purchase agreement. We did this in order to establish a reliable and consistent manufacturing resource for the supply of wafers incorporating the Optical Interposer devices. We also entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Accelink Technologies to become ‘Preferred Co-Development Partners’ on the collaborative development, qualification and sales of a family of advanced multichannel (100/400G) transmit and receive devices based on POET’s Optical Interposer platform. These strategic engagements with a leading foundry and global supplier of transceivers represent significant milestones in the commercialization process, as they each position the firm to engage more credibly in discussions with additional prospective customers,” Venkatesan believes.

“We continue to be on schedule to deliver receive optical engine prototypes to Accelink this summer, with our main challenges to that schedule being the logistics of installing and bringing up new tools and processes at 8-inch wafer foundry. We are very pleased with the cooperation and support that we are receiving from SilTerra and our equipment vendors. Beyond the short-term goal of prototypes for receive optical engines, we are working on the more complex transmit side of the transceiver and look forward to some announcements on that front later in the year. We see a very significant opportunity in the Optical Interposer platform applied to a number of application areas and vertical markets,” Venkatesan concludes.

See related items:

POET partner with 8” silicon foundry SilTerra Malaysia to develop and manufacture Optical Interposer Platform

POET and Accelink to co-develop transceivers for 100/400G markets

POET introduces Optical Interposer Platform for co-packaging of electronic and optical components

POET’s Q2 product revenue up 39% year-on-year

POET grows revenue in Q1 after shipping backlog for DenseLight photonic sensors

POET’s losses rise after lower-than-expected revenue in second-half 2016

POET completes acquisition of BB Photonics

POET completes acquisition of DenseLight

Tags: POET

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