PICs Technology

Europe has built a strong position in integrated photonics technology as a result of the pioneering work of the JePPIX consortium in projects like ePIXnet, EuroPIC, MEMPHIS and PARADIGM, and, parallel to the technological research effort, it has been created a generic foundry model for affordable access to advanced InP and dielectric waveguide PIC-manufacturing, similar to the approach in microelectronics thirty years ago.

The currently available foundry infrastructure includes design, manufacturing, packaging and testing which is quite unique. In fact, Europe is at present the only place in the world where foundries offer advanced platforms for InP and dielectric waveguide technology.

The main European key players in the field of Photonic Integration Technology are cooperating in the JePPIX technology platform and introduced a generic foundry model using highly standardized integration processes that can be used in a broad range of different applications.

Example of an optical subsystem integration on a PIC

Benefits of a generic Foundry model

Such processes bring important advantages:

• By sharing the process between many users the advantage of scale (low fabrication cost) can be reached at much smaller volumes per user.
• By using a standardized generic process, a number of designs can be combined in a single fabrication run, a so-called Multi-Project Wafer (MPW) run. It reduces the costs of a small set of test chips by more than an order of magnitude and it brings PIC development within reach for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and other innovative research groups with modest budgets at their disposal.
• Using generic processes, the qualification costs for a product are also greatly reduced, because the process itself is qualified, so that the PIC qualification can be restricted to specific product features.


PICs4All as interface between users and technology platforms

Benefits of Photonic Integrated Circuits

For companies that are manufacturing or developing photonic products, Photonic ICs will bring the following major advantages:
• Integration of a subsystem reduces the overall manufacturing costs, including the bill of materials, because only one chip has to be packaged instead of a number of discrete components. In cases where the packaging costs are dominant, the cost of the packaged integrated circuit will be much lower than the cost of the separate packaged components.
• The elimination of a lot of fibre-chip coupling and packaging leads to a better optical and mechanical stability of the sub-system, lower power consumption (less Peltier cooling) and a much smaller form factor.
• If the above mentioned advantages are performed through a generic foundry model, it will bring the low-cost advantage at much lower volumes, because of the cost sharing inherent to the approach. Further, through the use of MPW runs, it offers the additional advantage of low entry costs.
• New functionalities will be allowed due to the higher complexity that is possible in PICs and the short and stable interconnections, as for example, a whole range of phase sensitive functions which could not be implemented with sufficient stability in fibre-based systems.
The combined advantages of lower cost, smaller form factor, greater stability and lower power consumption will provide a promising business case for a large number of companies.