The objective of this EU-funded project is to establish a European photonics device value chain and initial industrial manufacturing capabilities, providing a path to scalable high-volume manufacturing for innovative product developers.
Today, European excellence in R&D does not sufficiently translate into industrial manufacturing capabilities, market leadership and technological autonomy in various parts of the semiconductor industry. This also applies to the area of silicon photonics. Photonic chip manufacturing for mature markets today, predominantly for data- and telecom applications, does not happen in Europe, but rather in the US and Asia. The integrated photonics market is relatively young, and foundries require increased agility to be in critical development path of emerging markets that are not at high volume yet. Emerging application domains will further drive the growth of silicon photonics in the next five years, both in wafer volume, economical value and societal impact.
The industrial pilot line photonixFAB aims to establish industrial manufacturing capability for current and next-generation silicon photonics products and markets.
From a technology perspective, it builds on three pillars towards this end. Pillar 1 and 2 exist of setting up a large-volume manufacturing platform in X-FAB for respectively IMEC’s silicon-on insulator (SOI) photonics technology and LIGENTEC’s silicon nitride (SiN) photonics technology. Transferring the SOI technology, which has been developed in IMEC, to an industrial environment will set up the first industrial European silicon-on-insulator foundry offering.
photonixFAB will allow to further develop and mature the SOI and SiN platforms to serve high-volume applications in emerging photonic markets such as Lidar, sensing and quantum technologies.
The following six objectives are defined for the photonixFAB project:
- Establish an industrial manufacturing capability in X-FAB for SOI photonics building on IMEC’s SOI platform.
- Extend the industrial manufacturing capability in X-FAB for SiN photonics building on LIGENTEC’s SiN platform.
- Increase maturity of heterogeneous integration of active devices on both SOI and SiN platforms to be low-volume production ready and with a path to high-volume fabrication.
- To demonstrate platform capability through application partners (datacom, data-center, telecom, sensing, olfaction sensor from Aryballe and fiber-interrogator from PhotonFirst).
- Strengthen the European silicon photonics industrial supply chain on EDA, packaging and testing, essential elements to offer production-ready technology.
- Develop an internationally competitive offering which is also accessible to European SME’s.
The main goal is to develop and strengthen the EU open market with a competitive industrial-grade and mass-production scalable SiN and SOI photonics platforms, enhanced with the heterogeneous integration pilot lines to further support SME innovation and prototyping activities on a path to mass production
The photonixFAB consortium is made up of major public and private enterprises, plus highly respected research institutes – all focusing on the development and production of next-generation silicon photonics. These high-profile partners include technology and manufacturing service providers X-FAB, LIGENTEC, SMART Photonics, PHIX Photonics Assembly and Luceda Photonics plus application developers Nokia, NVIDIA, Aryballe, Brolis Sensor Technology and PhotonFirst, as well as the major research organizations CEA-Leti and IMEC.
is co-funded by the European Union under grant agreement no. 101111896. The project is supported by the Key Digital Technologies Joint Undertaking and its members including top-up funding by Belgium, Germany, France, Israel, Italy and the Netherlands. The project is also supported by Switzerland separately.