LIGHTUP Project Report

15 May 2024

Semiconductor photonics stands at the forefront of technological advancement, harnessing the power of photons (light) to revolutionise chip circuits. This cutting-edge technology offers unparalleled benefits, such as enhanced performance, reliability, and energy efficiency.

To strengthen the innovative capacity of companies in the Flemish-Dutch border region, there arises a critical need for accessible cleanroom infrastructure to drive developments within semiconductor photonics, particularly in light source integration. Unfortunately, such infrastructure often remains beyond the reach of industry players.

Enter LIGHTUP, a pioneering European project dedicated to establishing a groundbreaking pilot line for micro-transfer-printing III-V semiconductors, including indium phosphide, onto silicon semiconductor photonics wafers. Silicon photonics can leverage the mature and very advanced silicon process technologies (CMOS, BiCMOS, Si Photonics,…) developed over the last decades in CMOS fabs. However, silicon has to be complemented by III-V semiconductors for specific photonic functions (e.g., light emission from UV to IR and beyond). In the world of semiconductors, heterogeneous integration technologies are fertile grounds for innovation, as they allow to mix and match technologies to obtain the ultimate performance of systems at a low cost without compromise. Micro-transfer printing is a so-called back-end heterogeneous integration process that decouples the processing of the different devices and integrates the finished, known-good devices afterwards.

At the heart of LIGHTUP’s mission lies the commitment to democratise access to semiconductor photonics innovation. To achieve this, the project will deliver six industry-relevant chips tailored for applications spanning air quality control, structural monitoring of green infrastructure, personalised medicine, and energy-efficient cloud computing in data centres. These chips will not only fuel collaborative networking activities but also serve as training materials, enabling companies to engage with the technology in a readily accessible manner.

By fostering cooperation, promoting knowledge exchange, and strengthening the competitive position of companies, LIGHTUP aims to ignite a wave of innovation that transcends borders. Together, we embark on a journey to shape the future of semiconductor photonics and propel Europe to the forefront of technological excellence.