Chee Wei: Illuminating The Path Forward In The World Of Photonics Technology

Chee Wei: Illuminating The Path Forward In The World Of Photonics Technology

Chee Wei , CTO

Chee Wei


Photonic transceivers play a crucial role in communication networks, such as data centres, telecom networks, and high-performance computing systems, by transforming electrical signals into optical signals for transmission and converting these optical signals back into electrical signals at the receiving end. Established in January 2020, Elite Photonics is a technology firm with a primary focus on creating innovative electronic-photonic integrated circuits (EPIC) for photonic transceivers. The company was founded by seasoned professionals possessing extensive expertise in the design, development, and characterization of photonic integrated circuits (PIC). Presently, Elite Photonics is in the process of developing silicon-based PIC optical engines for 400G DR4, FR4 transceivers, and products related to coherent communication. Chee Wei, the Chief Technology Officer at Elite Photonics, has a long-standing career in the industry and has played a pivotal role in propelling the organization to remarkable levels of achievement. During a personal interview with our team, he opened up about his early life, and his journey into the industry, and provided insights into the company's operations.

Can you describe your career path and what drives your daily routines?

I work in the field of photonics technology, and my interest in this area began during my internship in the fibre R&D department of Agilent Technologies in the year 2002. I was the only intern chosen from numerous university candidates, and during my internship, I had the opportunity to work with various optical transceivers products, which sparked my strong interest in photonics. After completing my degree, I decided to pursue a PhD in the same field, eventually leading to my role as a scientist and project leader in heterogeneous photonics integration in the Agency of Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), a government research lab of Singapore. My motivation has always been to use my technical knowledge and skills to create something beneficial for society. I also sought international exposure and had the opportunity to work in the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, UK, where I immersed myself in an innovative culture. After my research and development experiences, I felt the need to gain industry experience. I took a significant step by joining a startup in Shanghai, where I worked on micro-LED displays, and later, I joined Huawei Technologies in the field of silicon photonics integration. Currently, I am the Co-founder and CTO of Elite Photonics, where we focus on high-speed optical engines for optical transceivers used for Data Center applications. This position allows me to continue pursuing my passion for using my technical expertise to invent solutions that benefit society. This drive is what motivates me every day.

Describe Elite Photonics as a company and its standing within the market.

As one of the Co-founders of the company, my inspiration for joining this venture alongside with the main Founders stemmed from our belief in the transformative potential of photonics technology. We recognized its parallel with the early stages of electronic integrated circuits (IC), which have now matured. Photonic IC, on the other hand, is on the rise, presenting significant opportunities, particularly in supplanting certain applications of electronic IC, especially in high-speed communication. Fueled by our collective technical expertise and past experiences, we made the decision to establish this company.

How do your new products meet current market and customer demands, and how has your experience contributed to creating relevant products?

As I mentioned earlier, I've been deeply involved in the organic sphere, specifically in photonic chip design and fabrication since 2003. This extensive experience and knowledge have given us a significant advantage in terms of speed compared to many competitors. Our technical products cater to a substantial market, particularly in data centre interconnections, such as communication within data centres or between data centres. This is the key target market we are focusing on. Lately, there has been a noticeable surge in data centre demand, paralleled by the continuous growth of internet communication bit rates. The AI industry, which relies heavily on high-speed capabilities, is increasingly leaning towards photonics, as electronics alone can't keep pace. I foresee this shift yielding products with vital features, contributing to a substantial expansion of the market and its landscape in the future.

I strive for innovation & actively listen to our highly technical staff, valuing their input & recognizing their contributions

How do you promote innovation and inspire your team to maximize their potential with the latest technologies?

In my dual roles as a Co-founder and CTO of the company, my primary focus is on optimizing the performance of our R&D team. My leadership approach revolves around fostering a collaborative and inclusive atmosphere where team members feel empowered, motivated, and well-supported. To lead by example, I strive for innovation and actively listen to our highly technical staff, valuing their input and recognizing their contributions. We also provide ample room for their growth and development, allowing them to flourish. This approach encourages open communication and idea-sharing, and when valuable ideas emerge, we're willing to invest in them and even offer incentives for their further development. These methods drive our culture of innovation.

Where are you aiming to reach in the future?

A small portion of my attention is gradually shifting in another direction, bidding adieu. While the information provided is undeniably crucial, I don't find the same resonance in my personal journey and spiritual growth. I believe the future is not a destination, it’s a direction. I would see my life direction as living every day to its fullest in many aspects of life, family, work, self-enrichment and spiritual. I see myself as a complete person, and not just as a work machine.

Chee Wei, CTO, Elite Photonics

Chee Wei, a regular individual, has worked in photonics integration across research and industry since 2003. He's delved into design, fabrication, packaging, and characterization. His adventures span Singapore, the UK, and China, connecting with kindred spirits who share his passion.

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