Photonic integrated circuit design and prototyping.


When applying integration to your custom optical system, we will be developing what is called an Application-Specific Photonic Integrated Circuit (ASPIC).

Photonic chip design does not start with technology but is firstly based on customer specifications. Specifications on the function that the ASPIC should deliver into your product. Once these requirements are clear, the next step is to evaluate the most appropriate integration technology that could deliver the required functionality. Any optical system is composed of multiple building blocks, and it is here that technology comes into play: what specific material platform can be best used to implement the required components?

In this aspect VLC Photonics is technology independent, we will realize your ASPIC in the best suitable technology according to your needs. Therefore, we are not limited to a monolithical system with a single base material, being able to design in the main current material platforms: III-V compounds and Silicon Photonics (InP, SOI, SiO2, Si3N4, etc.). From a customer point-of-view, all this is transparent to your application.

View our Research and Development projects

Advantages of Photonic Integration

When integrating an optical system (or part of it) into a chip, you can obtain the following benefits:

  • Miniaturization: less volume and weight

  • Higher thermal and mechanical stability

  • Less power consumption

  • Functional scalability, enabling complex architectures

  • Increased volume manufacturing, reliability and yield

  • Lower cost: reduced Bill-of-Materials and labour time

  • Easier Assembly and Test of numerous and complex systems

Learn more about PIC applications

Main Technologies

Silicon Photonics
The Silicon Photonics technology platform offers passive light manipulation at a very small footprint, allowed by the relative high contrast index of silicon. Such small chip size, its cheaper base material and its CMOS fabrication compatibility also results in a lower chip price. However, no light amplification is possible at the time, meaning that integration with other technologies will be required for some active functionalities. The main semiconductor materials for this platform are:

  • Thin (220-300 nm) Silicon-On-Insulator (SOI)
  • Thick (2-4 um) Silicon-On-Insulator (SOI)
  • Germanium-on-Silicon (GeOI)

III-V Materials
The III-V Materials technology platform offers light amplification and detection, next to passive light manipulation as filtering, splitting or interfering. In the past 20 years, this technology has been widely used by chip manufacturers to make lasers, modulators and detectors, usually based on one epitaxial growth step. In the last five years, manufacturing technology has evolved to allow for a second or even a third epitaxial growth layer that allows for lower losses, more advanced passive components and electro-optical phase shifters. The main materials for this platform are:

Dielectrics and Other
The Dielectrics technology platform offers passive light manipulation with very low transmission and fiber coupling losses, given the refractive index match of Silica. However, due to the low refractive index contrast, chip size is not as compact as in other technology platforms. Also referred as Planar Lightwave Technology (PLC), it became very popular in the early 2000’s, allowing for a large cost reduction because of mass production of splitters and AWGs. The main materials for this platform are:

  • Silicon Dioxide or Silica (SiO2)
  • Silicon Nitride (Si3N4/SiN) or TriPleXTM, for higher mode confinement and smaller chip size.
  • Silicon Oxinitride (SiON)
  • Polymers


Here you will find photonic integration tutorials and technical whitepapers from VLC Photonics, available online or for direct download.

How to Integrate
optical system on chip

Step-by-step process on how to integrate an optical system into a single photonic chip.

Towards fabless
photonic integration

Generic photonic integration
Foundry/Design house
Business model
Foundry examples
Foundries table
Examples of VLC Photonics PICs

Improve your optical system with PIC

What is photonic integration
How PICs are fabricated
Examples of components
and integrated photonic chips
VLC Photonics way of working

Photonic Integration:
step-by-step guide

PIC Magazine, Vol. 1-1 (June 2016)

Best Achievement in PIC Develompment 2019

PIC Magazine (2019)

3D Optical systems and Photonic integration for LIDAR

PIC Magazine

Blossoming photonic foundries

Electro Optics, business (Jun’2013)

Challenges in photonic integration business

Electro Optics, business (Oct’2016)


Elektronik, pp. 26-27 (Mar’2014)

Basic building blocks
for commercial applications

Optik&Photonik 8(2), pp. 52-55 (Jun’2013)

VLC Photonics videos

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