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News Article

Novel Photonics Applications Require Vertical Integration

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Scalable assembly and packaging of photonic integrated circuits for emerging applications.

By Douwe Geuzebroek, Paul van Dijk, Arne Leinse at LioniX International B.V.

Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC) technology is becoming more interesting for applications outside telecom and data communications. New applications for PICs in metrology and life science are emerging as the promise of technology scaling enables lower cost and smaller form factors that well match novel application roadmaps.

Growth beyond traditional PIC applications is possible due to maturing photonic IC technology and a greater number of foundries providing new Silicon Photonics, InP and Silicon-Nitride processes. Rather than surmounting technology hurdles, the challenge faced by PIC designers and manufacturers is how to best address the broad scope of novel applications now possible.

These emerging applications have a broad range of requirements both in terms of Photonic IC functionality and also in making interconnections with other parts of the system. There is no single interface in this broad scope of applications like those typical for standard fiber optic cables. Furthermore, these diverse requirements often mean that optimizing on-chip functionalities only will not be sufficient to address the complete need.

An integral or vertical approach needs to be applied to product designs that takes into account overall system performance and interface needs as well as the chip design itself. We show a different set of interfaces available in the TriPleX waveguide platform [1] that will match the requirements of emerging applications such as bio-photonics and confocal microscopy, flow cytometry, molecular diagnostics, bio-sensing, DNA sequencing and micro spectroscopy. We conclude with an example of the vertical integrated approach for broadband beamformers in 5G antenna and satellite communications systems.

Standard building blocks

PIC technology relies on the use of validated standard building blocks. These building blocks, such as waveguide bends, taper sections and modulators (amongst many) are designed with a common use in mind. However, in assembly and packaging of these PICs, the field of emerging applications is so broad that there is no standard packaging scheme that is suitable for all, unlike the fiber pigtailed butterfly package that is used across telecommunications.