LIGENTEC, a Swiss provider of manufacturing foundry services in silicon nitride, and VLC Photonics, a Spanish design house offering photonic circuit development services, have collaborated to offer a generic platform for the prototyping and production of photonic integrated circuits.
According to the company, LIGENTEC has matured a proprietary silicon nitride process that is able to achieve ultra-low propagation losses. It has published several world record devices in the last few years. “Our process is able to deposit thick film silicon nitride, from 100 nm to 2,500 nm, overcoming the challenge of crack formation due to stress in the material,” explains Michael Zervas, LIGENTEC CEO.
The process can also scale up to production volumes using 8-inch wafers and stepper lithography.
The new open access platform is designed to provide a generic fabrication process for designing and manufacturing photonic integrated circuits, to be used in a number of different applications. Targeting mainly the most common communications wavelengths, the platform is also customisable for lower visible wavelengths, suitable for biophotonic and sensing applications. The main markets addressed, though, are optical telecom and datacom, supercontinuum generation, microwave photonics and quantum optics.
Fabrication is organised through dedicated full-wafer runs or shared multi-project wafer runs, which are periodically scheduled three times a year. Users can subscribe to these runs and prepare their designs using the standardised rules and functional building blocks provided by the foundry and the design house. The rules and building blocks have also been implemented under a Process Design Kit (PDK) for two different design software tools, OptoDesigner by PhoeniX Software and IPKISS by Luceda Photonics.
VLC Photonics will also be offering full design or design support for inexperienced users, and also chip characterisation and test services once fabrication has been performed. “We have realised that most of the times, end users also require some level of design or test assistance, to speed their developments and reduce the risk when targeting complex projects”, clarifies Iñigo Artundo, CEO of VLC Photonics.