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Ahmadreza Farsaei doesn’t enjoy being bored—and this is a great thing for the electronics/photonics industry. Long a mainstay of academic research, photonics—the science of generating, controlling, and detecting light—is moving quickly into mainstream electronic designs to address bandwidth demands of applications like communications. Ahmadreza, a principal product engineer in the Custom IC & PCB Group at Cadence, is one of the company’s resident experts in the field.
He has a background in microwave electronics, with a master’s degree in the subject from Isfahan University of Technology in Iran. While at the University of British Columbia for his Ph.D., he turned his attention to microwave photonics.
“I mostly designed RF circuits, but started thinking about the challenges in electronics that needed to be resolved so that the next big step could happen. That’s photonics,” Ahmadreza said. “Most of the concepts in microwave are similar to those in photonics, except microwave deals in gigahertz and photonics deals in terahertz. It’s a new area, it’s challenging, and I like not to be bored,” he added.
Before joining Cadence this spring, Ahmadreza worked at Lumerical Solutions, where he played a significant role on a team including Lumerical, PhoeniX Software, and Cadence that developed an integrated electronic/photonic design automation (EPDA) environment. The EPDA flow is designed to make it easier for electronic design engineers to address optical and electro-optical effects using a familiar toolset. It’s built on Cadence’s Virtuoso custom design platform and is integrated with Lumerical’s INTERCONNECT dedicated photonic IC (PIC) simulation engine and PhoeniX’s OptoDesigner photonic chip design suite.
In his current role at Cadence, Ahmadreza is a go-to expert who provides insights on light, optical components, and any other questions about photonics that the company’s R&D teams and applications engineers might have. He examines new tool features to ensure that they properly address electro-optical concerns, and he is a bridge to university professors and students who are using Cadence tools in their photonics research.
Working with Ahmadreza, the Cadence Academic Network has launched a Photonics University Outreach program with the University of British Columbia, MIT, UC Santa Barbara, and the University of Rochester to help them gain proficiency in designing PICs. These three universities were identified as among the most active in terms of photonics research. (Side note: a professor for whom Ahmadreza worked as a teaching assistant is now teaching a University of British Columbia course, using some Cadence tools, on CMOS Design for Silicon Photonics Applications.)
“Our EPDA flow is new to universities, so we need to educate them, even in terms of installing the tools and on how to use the flow to properly simulate electro-optical circuits,” Ahmadreza noted. “I see a lot of passion here. I also suggest that, while a lot of photonics engineers are mostly focused on this area, the emerging area is electro-optics, so it’s beneficial to be strong in both photonics and electronics. When you marry these two together, you can do a lot of fun things.”
With internet of things, video, mobile, and other applications driving data communication, electronic circuits will continue to encounter bandwidth limitations that photonics can help solve. “If photonics is going to ramp up, EDA tools that can support both photonics and electronics will be a key in its continued advancement.”
Cadence is hosting a two-day photonics workshop October 19 and 20 at the San Jose headquarters. Hope to see you there! Learn more about the EPDA flow from this white paper, Addressing the Challenges of Photonic IC Design Via an Integrated Electronic/Photonic Design Automation Environment.