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Ligentec And VLC Develop Silicon Nitride Photonic Platform

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Ligentec's process is able to deposit thick film Si3N4 overcoming the challenge of crack formation due to stress in the material

Ligentec, a Swiss provider of manufacturing foundry services in Si3N4 (silicon nitride), and VLC Photonics, a design house offering services for photonic circuit development, have collaborated to offer a generic platform for the prototyping and production of photonic integrated circuits (PICs).

Ligentec has matured a proprietary Si3N4 process that is able to achieve ultra-low propagation losses, with several world record devices being published in the last years. As Michael Zervas, CEO of Ligentec, explains: "Our process is able to deposit thick film Si3N4, from 100 nm to 2500 nm, overcoming the challenge of crack formation due to stress in the material".

The process can also scale up to production volumes using 8 inch wafers and stepper lithography. The open access platform provides a generic fabrication process for designing and manufacturing PICs, to be used in many 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 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, which 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 realized 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 Inigo Artundo, CEO of VLC Photonics.


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