Dutch industrial partners in integrated photonics collaborate on PICs in space

11 May 2020

At the end of April, the Dutch consortia of the PhotonDelta Flagship project jointly kicked off the project. The project addresses the realization of a robust and versatile hybrid integrated photonics platform that provides scalable solutions for a suite of applications. Moreover, with two proven technology platforms within the Netherlands, InP and TriPleX, the PhotonDelta Flagship project demonstrates scalability to high-volume manufacturing aiming for space quality modules; the highest quality grade in industry. Hence, this project indirectly also supports several industry and application driven roadmaps.

The PhotonDelta Flagship project connects and involves the main Dutch industry players in integrated photonics, which are now jointly collaborating in the PhotonDelta ecosystem. The consortia is chaired by LioniX International, and involves six SME’s – Bright Photonics, EFFECT Photonics, SMART Photonics, PHIX Photonics Assembly, Technobis Fiber Technologies, VTEC Lasers & Sensors – and the Space and Semiconductor departments from TNO. The companies cover the entire supply chain from chipdesign, chip manufacturing, assembly, packaging and testing. Co-initiator and co-funder of the project is PhotonDelta.

Accelerate innovation and reduce time-to-market by working together

With their proven advantages of size, weight and power consumption Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs) are on the verge of a breakthrough in the space applications, once proven its robustness and reliability for harsh environments. Still OEMs are reluctant, concerned and sometimes resistant to integrate unqualified components and novel platforms. Moreover, and apart from government funded initiatives, there is little, if any space-qualified industrial subcontractors in the Netherlands that have a track record of deliveries to European OEM’s or have collaborated with integrated device manufacturer (IDM) in the space industry.

“By combining strengths within the supply chain in this PhotonDelta Flagship project, the entire supply chain is acting pro-active in order to fulfil the current needs of the space industry. We accelerate innovation and reduce time-to-market by closely working together in this project.” says Arne Leinse, CEO of LioniX International, which is the lead partner of the project. “The goal of the project is to prove the scalable supply of hybrid modules at a lower cost. By doing so, we lower the barrier for future customers.”

Working towards a scalable supply of hybrid modules at decreasing cost

Where electronic integrated circuitry is known for its compactness, high integration density of functions, robustness and excellent reproductivity in scalable volumes, photonic integrated circuits need to prove their mechanically robustness, temperature stability, radiation hardness and scalability to low-cost solutions for many applications in healthcare, automotive applications and implementation in complex and novel aeronautics and space systems. “The joint initiative of the PhotonDelta Flagship project secures manufacturing and design competences, assembly and qualification capabilities in the PhotonDelta ecosystem. The project will result in a scalable supply of hybrid modules at decreasing cost and compliant with Space standards. We are convinced that this is an efficient approach to address future opportunities and implementation of PICs in space systems for satcom and optical communications and we are excited to be partner in this activity” says Kees Buijsrogge Director of Space & Scientific Instrumentation at TNO.

With the PhotonDelta Flagship project, the participants will show a reliable production process with reproducible performance of the PIC platform, proving space requirements can be met. The envisioned activities include implementation of process control, definition of standards derived from best known methods in the PIC industry that are compliant with the requirements of the SPACE and Aeronautics OEMs, serving a suite of applications including optical communication & sensing. “The project results will provide proof of the performance capabilities of the integrated photonics platform for SPACE. Meanwhile we innovate by close cooperation, we will enable spin-off and further acceleration for manufacturing of a variety of novel components and serve a suite of applications beyond SPACE. Therefore, we are happy to support this project” says Ewit Roos, CEO of PhotonDelta.

The full Pressrelease can be downloaded here. 

We will enable spin-off and further acceleration for manufacturing of a variety of novel components and serve a suite of applications beyond SPACE.