Ansys acquires Lumerical for photonics ICs

Mar 5, 2020 | Hot Topics

Ansys just announced that it will acquire Lumerical, maker of the DEVICE suite of component-level simulation products for modeling the optical, electrical and thermal effects in the performance of photonic integrated circuits.

What’s a photonic integrated circuit? Ooh. Good question and a chance to nerd out. They’re also called integrated optical circuits and are just like regular integrated circuits that rely on silicon as the base material BUT photonic circuits can be made from certain kinds of crystals, silica on silicon polymers and other materials. I’m not a material scientist, but I always think of Star Trek’s data crystals — the point being that photonic materials, based on light, have different properties than silica-based circuits.

Where are they used? Lots of things. Fiber-optic communications today, but research is looking at applying them in biomedical and photonic computing (those data crystals again).

Why would Ansys be interested? Well, that’s easy. 5G telecoms, IioT, and other imperatives require faster, bigger data volumes — enter light and photonics. Ansys says in its release that Lumerics’ solutions “model the most challenging problems in photonics, including interacting optical, electrical and thermal effects. Lumerical’s solutions can improve the performance of data center architectures by removing networking bottlenecks, potentially slashing the total cost of ownership. Additionally, the acquisition of Lumerical is expected to enable Ansys customers to predict light’s behavior within complex photonic structures and systems”.

Ansys plans to add Lumerics’ solutions to Workbench and, says Shane Emswiler, Ansys’ SVP, physics business units, “With the acquisition of Lumerical, we will extend Ansys’ capabilities to exploit the potential of photonics to further empower our customers to develop next-generation products like autonomous vehicles and other smart-connected products.”

Neither company announced financial details, though Ansys did say that the transaction is expected to close in Q2, and that Lumerical is not expected to have a material impact on Ansys’ finances for 2020.