Bookham founder takes the helm at Rockley Photonics

Created April 14, 2014
News and Business

Dr. Andrew Rickman, founder of Bookham Technology (now Oclaro), has always had silicon photonics in the cross hairs. Now, he has reappeared on the optical scene as chairman and CEO of UK-based silicon photonics start-up Rockley Photonics.

The start-up has closed its Series A funding round following what the company says were “high levels of investor interest.” Neither the investors nor the amount of funding were disclosed.

Founded in September 2013, Rockley Photonics has offices in Oxford, UK and Pasadena, California. The company says it is establishing a fabless silicon photonics model and has an exclusive partnership with an unnamed technology institute.
Silicon photonics technology is used to integrate various optical functions on a silicon chip in much the same way that traditional semiconductor chip technology integrates various electrical functions on a silicon chip. This technology promises to efficiently increase bandwidth capacity in data communication networks, and is being hotly pursued by key vendors including Intel and IBM.

Rockley Photonics isn’t saying exactly what is different about its particular take on silicon photonics, but promises that it will be something special.

“I have been closely involved with silicon photonics for 23 years and Rockley Photonics represents the commercialization of silicon photonics technology in its most exciting form yet,” said Rickman. “There is strong demand in the market for the speed and integration capabilities that silicon photonics can provide and we aim to apply our experience to enable accelerated adoption of higher bandwidth networks for a faster and more productive internet experience.”

To back up this bold claim, the start-up notes that it was founded by “an experienced management team with success in commercializing silicon photonics.” Rickman left Bookham in 2005 to set up a private technology investment firm, Rockley Ventures, which invested in another silicon photonics start-up, Kotura. He recently acted as chairman to Kotura before it was sold to Mellanox last year. The team also includes Aaron Zilkie, a co-founder and vice-president of engineering at Rockley Photonics, who was also previously at Kotura.

The funds secured will be used for a number of product development and growth initiatives, including the expansion of the company’s engineering team in Pasadena, the start-up says. It is currently advertising for several positions including silicon photonics component engineer, RF optoelectronics engineer, semiconductor device design engineer, integrated photonics fabrication and process engineer, and software/systems architect engineer.  

By Pauline Rigby See Also:  Lightwave Online: Bookham founder resurfaces at Rockley Photonics

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This article was written
by Pauline Rigby