Large-Scale Production of Photonic Chips

The Fraunhofer Project Center will develop a machine for assembly and packaging of PICs and will supervise Phix Photonics with knowledge of new production processes. (Source: Fraunhofer Project Center)

Photonic circuits, chips that work with light, are clearly on the rise, for example in telecom and medical applications. They are still often “high-end” applications in small series. But this will change, as soon as photonic chips will be used in large-scale applications like future 5G networks. This is the prediction of Lionix International, based on the University of Twente campus. The success of scaling up is highly dependent on technology for assembly and packaging, in a cost-effective way. This is completely different from regular electronics assembly. It involves connecting glass fibers to the photonic circuitry, for example.

The Fraunhofer Project Center will develop an innovative machine for this, and it will also support the production process as a whole. This will enable the new company Phix Photonic Assembly to start production of mid-volume series between 1000 and 100,000. On the longer term, Phix expects to move towards series of millions of chips, with a full production line at the campus. Both LioniX International and the University of Twente are shareholders of Phix.

In order to help the industry with integrated production solutions and to accompany new developments such as Industry 4.0, the Fraunhofer Project Center was opened at the beginning of this year, a collaboration between the University of Twente, Saxion and the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Engineering in Aachen. During the MicroNano Conference, on 12 and 13 December at the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam, Fraunhofer already shows several modules of the machine. Thanks to the modular construction, the machine can be adapted to the application: Photonic components can also be connected to liquid chips (lab-on-a-chip systems) or micromechanical sensors.

Photonics is strongly represented in Twente, with a cluster of research groups within the MESA + Institute for Nanotechnology, an Applied Nanotechnology program within Saxion and successful spin-offs. The region is part of PhotonDelta, the ecosystem for integrated photonics in the Netherlands. In Twente the emphasis is on silicon nitride chips. (Source: Fraunhofer Project Center)

Links: PHIX B.V., Enschede, The Netherlands • LioniX International BV, Enschede, The Netherlands • Fraunhofer Project Center, Twente, The Netherlands

Further reading: D. Geuzebroek, R. Dekker, P. van Dijk: Photonics Packaging Made Visible, Optik & Photonik, online 11. December 2017, 10.1002/opph.201700033 • Phix Raises First Round of Investment, PhotonicsViews, 31. October 2017

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