Photonic integrated circuit design and prototyping. - Customers Private Area »


All main integration platforms


into a single photonic chip



Embedding a full optical system into a single photonic chip can be a complex and time-consuming task.

VLC Photonics, as a fabless design house, can help with multiple solutions spanning the whole optical integration process, from the initial concept evaluation to the circuit layout, prototyping and testing of the chip.

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  • Photonic Integration Consultancy

    Backed through our years-long expertise on optical systems, VLC Photonics provides system-level engineering services to enable the exploration of photonic integration for a specific application or field.

    VLC Photonics can support you with the technical feasibility evaluation for integrating a given optical system, and to deliver an extensive performance modeling of the expected solution, along with then main technological choices and design building blocks available.

    Most importantly, VLC Photonics can support on the techno-economic evaluation, estimating the costs of every stage for prototyping and taking a photonic integrated circuit into production. Business considerations like intellectual property (IP) issues, cost escalation in production, or large volume transfers, can also be evaluated as part of these studies.


  • PIC Design

    Based on your technical specifications, VLC Photonics can design a photonic integrated circuit (PIC) that implements the required functionalities on the target platform.

    As a fabless and independent design house, we are skilled at the main photonic materials: IIIV semiconductors (InP and GaAs) and Silicon Photonics (thin and thick SOI, SiO2/PLC, Si3N4/TriPleXTM), combining multiple design frameworks and toolboxes.

    Moreover, VLC Photonics has developed its own proprietary modules and libraries of functional building blocks, guaranteeing always the best performance and optimal design technology match to minimize risks.

    We comply with industry standard design techniques for manufacturability, testability and packaging. Moreover, your intellectual property will always be confidential and secured, and any IP developed through the integration process can be transferred to you on demand.

    Our services include:

    • Custom design service: modelling, simulation and design of any required photonic components and building blocks for any required material platform (silicon photonics, silicon nitride, silica/PLC, III-V compounds like InP, GaAs, etc.).
    • Layout service: layout of photonic integrated circuits according to a specific foundry process.
    • Design support: engineering support for your in-house design team, to help on the design, layout and DRC tasks, as well as an overall review and check including advice on design for manufacturing, test and packaging.



  • PIC Manufacturing

    VLC Photonics can manufacture any photonic circuit design for the main material platforms (InP, GaAs, SOI, SiO2/PLC, Si3N4/TripleXTM) through its foundry network, in what is known as fabless operation. In this way, VLC Photonics works closely with several foundries to always provide the best solution in terms of cost, timing and performance, but also reliability and yield.

    • R&D and prototype runs usually range from a single PIC to a few tens. Risk and cycle time are greatly minimized through our years-long experience with all foundry partners. Additionally, cost can be significantly reduced through Multi-Project Wafer runs (also known as shuttle runs), where fabrication area and cost are shared among several users.


    • Dedicated runs can scale the number of PICs to several tens or hundreds of dies from a batch of 1-20 wafers, allowing for more flexibility in chip sizes, fabrication timing, or custom fab processing. VLC Photonics can also provide these, including complete mask layout and process definitions and modifications if required for pilot production.


    • Finally, VLC Photonics can support you when moving to volume production, where larger amounts of wafers (+20/100/1000) are manufactured. Depending on the end market, this can mean from thousands to millions of PICs, and we have the expertise to guide you through the hurdles of re-designs, transfer to larger foundries and production logistics.



  • PIC Characterization and Test

    After fabrication, chips from the corresponding foundry can be fully characterized at our own in-house facilities. Physical as well as functional characterization is performed on the bare dies and/or wafers to evaluate the design performance and the manufacturing process and tolerances. Our cleanroom labs include digital and analog testing equipment up to 50 GHz and several multi-probe stations with vertical and lateral coupling setups.

    Eventually, if the PIC is packaged, VLC Photonics can also provide component level testing of the electrical and optical specifications. This also includes thermal testing, and if required, environmental testing (vibration, shock, radiation, etc.) and certification through external partners for specific applications: telecom standards, space qualification, harsh sensing, etc.

    Optical component and circuit characterization may include measurements and root-cause-analysis (RCA) on the following parameters:

    • -passive waveguide devices: coupling and propagation losses (insertion / excess losses), cross-talk, polarization dependence, spectral response, etc.


    • -PD responsivity, dark current, noise, etc.


    • -modulator speed, extinction ratio, etc.


    • -laser biasing, power, tuning range, linewidth, noise, etc.



  • PIC Packaging

    As an independent solution provider, VLC Photonics works with many packaging companies, each of them providing different services and capabilities. The range of options includes:

    • -eutectic or epoxy die bonding,
    • -thermal control,
    • -DC and RF connections, RF routing design,
    • -micro optic components (lenses, circulators, isolators, etc.),
    • -wirebonding, ribbon bonding and flip-chip,
    • -PCB and ceramic subcarrier design and procurement,
    • – alignment and bonding to standard single-mode fiber, fiber arrays, specialty fibers,
    • -standard and custom housing, hermetic packages,
    • -external electronics (TIAs, drivers, etc.).


    Test Assemblies

    Additionally, if required, PICs can also be assembled, and connectorized electrically and optically in-house at VLC Photonics.


  • Foundry Process Design Kits

    VLC Photonics can work side by side with foundries to develop a photonic Process Design Kit (PDK). This PDK can provide photonic designers with a standard and lower-risk design environment, customized for the foundry-specific data, models and processes. This way, the foundry eases the access to its infrastructure, attracting more users and increasing their productivity and yield, while faster amortizing and profiting its investment in equipment and technology.

    Such PDK can provide access to component-level design and simulations, circuit layouts and DRC/verification tools together with accurate photonic device models in a unified software framework and workflow. The design kit libraries usually contain customizable, easily expandable building blocks for schematic capture, simulation, physical layout, and verification. These allow anyone to easily create a complete PIC design tailored to the foundry process technology, covering both the front and back-end of the development.


  • PIC Design and Characterization trainings

    Since 2015 VLC Photonics has been delivering Photonic Integration related courses. Its expertise in the photonics field has allowed our engineers to master the development process of photonic integrated circuits. This has been materialized in custom and scheduled trainings twice a year.

    The main topics covered in the design trainings are waveguides and couplers, Mach-Zehnder interferometers, ring resonators, thermo optics, circuit simulation and mask layout. Whereas the class lab and hands-on characterization trainings cover a wide range of topics such as an introduction to optical and DC equipment, how a PIC characterization setup works, how to perform both active and passive measurements, and finally, how to process and analyse the extracted data. Participants have also the opportunity to fabricate their designs.

    Find out on the previous and upcoming trainings in our news section.