ELEC 506 – Photonic ICs

CMOS Design for Photonics


Silicon Photonics is an emerging technology where the photonic devices are designed using silicon as an optical medium, thereby leveraging semiconductor fabrication techniques that have already seen decades of advancement fueled by Moore’s law.

This course focused towards the understanding, modeling and design of CMOS ICs that can interface with silicon photonic devices.  Students enrolled in the course can either work on the prescribed projects, or propose their own project.


  • Understand the basics of silicon photonic links
  • Analyze and design CMOS circuits for photonics applications.
  • Learn Cadence and Lumerical tools.

Detailed Course Outline:

  • Silicon Photonics Overview: Waveguides, Couplers, Mach Zehnder Interferometer, MicroRing Resonators, Modulators, Photodetectors, Phase Shifters, Lasers
  • VCSELs
  • Optical link budget analysis
  • Basics of CMOS : Quick Revision (Q/A) on MOSFETs, DC and AC response, single transistor and differential circuits, noise and feedback
  • Receivers: Basic concepts, Trans-impedance Amplifier (TIA) Design, Limiting Amplifiers, Input offset cancellation, AGC techniques
  • Transmitters: Modulator Drivers, Terminations, Bias control, Transmission Line
  • Laser Drivers
  • Tuning and Control Circuits
  • Packaging considerations
  • Clock and data recovery
  • Silicon Photonics Gas and Bio Sensors
  • Silicon Photonics Compute Accelerators
  • LiDARs (time permitting)
  • Quantum Computing & Silicon Photonics

Suggested Reading:

There is no single textbook that covers the course topics in detail. The course will be taught using the instructor’s lecture notes, along with reference books and IEEE Journals (JSSC, TCAS, JLT) and Conferences (ISSCC, VLSI Symposium, CICC).

Reference Textbooks:

  • Design of Integrated Circuits for Optical Communications, B. Razavi, Wiley, 2012 (2nd Ed).
  • Broadband Circuits for Optical Fiber Communication, E. Sackinger, Wiley-Interscience, 2005.
  • Silicon Photonics Design: From Devices to System, L. Chrostowski and M. Hochberg, Cambridge University Press, 2015.


  • Basic core undergraduate courses in electronics, i.e. familiarity with CMOS and circuit analysis, and computer-aided design tools for circuit design such as Cadence.

Course Structure:

  • Flipped course – pre-recorded videos
  • 3 hours/week of Classroom time for clarifying lecture notes, Q/A
  • Ad-hoc tutorials
  • Content delivery, Q/As – through Piazza and YouTube.


  • Design Project 70%80%
  • Quizzes 10%0%
  • Final 20% (must pass)

Instructor’s Office Hour:

  • After class (K4017)
  • By appointment


Q. I do not have much experience with CMOS circuits. Can I still register for this course?

Yes, if you satisfy the pre-requisite condition.

Q. What do you recommend for revising the basics of Analog CMOS Design?

I would suggest reading and becoming comfortable with Chapter 3 “Basic Current Mirrors and Single-Stage Amplifiers” of Johns & Martin’s Analog Integrated Circuit Design textbook.

Q. I have not used Cadence Spectre before. What should I do?

We would provide tutorial documents on Cadence to you. They include step-by-step instructions for simulating basic circuits. You would need to learn them on your own. You may ask the instructor or other students if you have specific questions.