LIGENTEC, a leading provider of manufacturing foundry services in silicon nitride, and VLCPhotonics, a pioneer design house offering services for photonic circuit development, have collaborated to offer a generic platform for the prototyping and production of photonic integrated circuits.
LIGENTEC has matured a proprietary silicon nitride 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 silicon nitride, 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” wafers and stepper lithography.
The open access platform provides a generic fabrication process for designing and manufacturing photonic integrated circuits, to be used in many different applications. Targeting mainly the most common communications wavelengths, the platform is also customizable 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.
Silicon nitride chip fabricated at Ligentec with photonic circuit structures designed by VLCPhotonics
Fabrication is organized 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 standardized 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
VLC Photonics will also be offering full design or design support for inexperienced users, and also chip characterization 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 Iñigo Artundo, CEO of VLC Photonics. More information on the technical details and commercial availability of these services can be found at www.ligentec.com.
LIGENTEC is offering wafer scale fabrication of silicon nitride photonic integrated circuits (PIC) for applications in telecom/datacom, quantum optics, optical (bio-)sensing. The propriatory low loss waveguide technology together with the low bending losses that thick film nitride enables paves the way to new integrated applications. Thick silicon nitride chips can thus scale down to four times in cost compared to thin film silicon nitride. The combination of cost scaling and low loss is resulting in more cost-effective solutions.