Start prototyping

A Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC) requires the right level of maturity before it can be taken to market. Like any other product, this takes rigorous prototyping and testing. That’s why the PhotonDelta ecosystem has cost-effective solutions for prototyping photonic chips for use in a range of devices.

Why is prototyping so important for photonic chips?

Originating from university research, photonics has a well-established and extensive knowledge base. In fact, many of the tech developers in our ecosystem have their roots in higher education. As a result, their business challenges are usually around how to take their idea, create a proof of concept, and turn it into a viable product.

On the other hand, larger companies looking to embrace the opportunities from embedding photonic chips in their devices (including manufacturers of cars, phones, and transceivers) often seek collaboration with an integrated photonics company in order to build their own module around the chip. And of course, these companies are going to need a proof of concept in this specialist technology.

For both tech developers and users, the key to meaningful and impactful product development is prototyping. 

How does PhotonDelta support PIC prototyping?

Companies are using Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs) for three main reasons: miniaturisation, cost efficiency, and lower power consumption. But as with any industry, prototyping can be expensive. The PhotonDelta ecosystem provides various support to realise a prototype, including an established network of partners and information on subsidized funding opportunities. This enables us to support early-phase designs as they mature and find applications for use. 

Our ecosystem of partners offers the complete suite of services, from first chip design, to building, and packaging ready for testing. We also have partners who can create system architecture and build modules. Coupled with the access we provide to financial support, it’s clear that the PhotonDelta ecosystem provides the ideal environment for prototyping and developing PICs. 

For an early-stage startup working in PICs, producing a prototype can be prohibitively expensive. So we’ve taken the legacy semiconductor industry practice of the Multi Project Wafer (MPW) run to create a cost-effective solution to prototyping PICs. By fabricating several users on the same wafer (or substrate), tech developers can create a few concepts, and share the cost with other companies. It keeps costs low, and enables them to test faster.

MWP runs are available from:

SMART PhotonicsA pure-play Indium Phosphide (InP) foundry, SMART Photonics covers the complete production process for PICs. Sharing mask and wafer resources reduces the costs of prototyping, and the number of design cycles is smaller because the process is mature and designers can use a library of proven components. This also reduces entry costs for new PICs users. Read more >
LioniX InternationalA leading provider of customized microsystem solutions, LioniX International offers Multi Project Wafer services for silicon nitride PICs with the benefits of ultra low-loss TriPleX™ waveguide technology. It also offers spot size converters and thermo-optic phase modulators. They fabricate designs from multiple users on the same wafer substrate, reducing costs and simplifying the design. Read more >
IMECA research and development hub for nano and digital technologies, IMEC’s SiN and SiPh platforms are based on 180-nm process technology and 200-mm wafers. This enables the fabrication of compact, highly-reproducible, and Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) compatible PICs. It’s now available for prototyping and low-volume production through IMEC’s SiN and SiPh photonics Multi Project Wafer service. Read more >
JePPIXAs the joint European platform for photonic integrated components and circuits, JePPIX offers one-stop technology access to InP, SiN, IMOS, and Triplex integrated photonics. Based on your needs, JePPIX offers independent advice and creates a bespoke plan for your first PIC prototypes, working in partnership with SMART Photonics, LioniX International, and Fraunhofer HHI. Read more >
ePIXfab ePIXfab, The European Silicon Photonics Alliance, offers an overview of MPW-runs for Silicon Photonics (SiPh). Read more >

How can the CITC help with your chip packaging challenges?

When photonic chips are produced, they have to be packaged. The cost and performance of advanced devices are increasingly dominated by integration and chip packaging challenges. Have you run into challenges with chip packaging or heterogeneous integrations? The Chip Integration Technology Centre (CITC) may be able to help.

This non-profit joint innovation centre specialises in chip packaging and chip prototype packages for different types of chips – including integrated photonics. They run pre-competitive programs that bring together various stakeholders, competencies, and facilities to help reduce risk and time to market. 

How can you develop photonic chips for use in products?

As a European SME, you have access to a range of cost-effective and subsidised pilot lines to enable you to take photonics-based product ideas, scale them up, and validate them for commercial production. These pilot lines offer advanced manufacturing services, cost-intensive infrastructures, and invaluable expertise. PhotonDelta is a leading consortium member in a number of European initiatives, which are crucial enablers for businesses working with photonics technologies to transition from first prototypes to pilot production.

Discover how startup Pilot Photonics makes use of the JePPIX Pilot Line in this article.

An overview of the available pilot lines:

JePPIXThe JePPIX Pilot Line enables fabless businesses to take their application to market faster and more cost-effectively. They bridge the gap from first prototype to InP or SiN production by providing a single point of contact for design, manufacturing, and testing services. Learn More
PIXAPPWith an interdisciplinary team from Europe’s leading industrial and research organisations, PIXAPP provides standardised, cost-effective photonic packaging solutions for validating first prototypes before scaling to large volume production. PIXAPP’s Pilot Packaging Platform is ideal for optical communications, diagnosis and fibre sensing applications. Learn More
OIP4NWEOIP4NWE an open-innovation pilotproduction line for shared use by European SMEs through innovations in manufacturing equipment, focusing on reducing the defect rate, variability in production, and shortening throughput time. Learn More
MedPhabAs Europe’s first photonics pilot line for medical applications, MedPhab’s pilot production line aims to accelerate the commercialisation of diagnostic devices and instruments for medical treatments. They offer photonic technologies such as fibre optics, reader modules, integrated circuits, and microfluidic. Learn More
European pilot linesIvan Nikitskiy, Program Manager at EPIC, has created an overview with all pilot lines in Europe. Learn More

How can the PITC support your development challenges?

Are you working on an application in which you can use photonics, but need support or specific know-how? Or do you want to develop a module and integrate photonics and electronics? Or do you need design or process support? The Photonic Integration Technology Centre (PITC) is an organisation set up to help deal with challenges along the entire supply chain.

It is set up to transfer knowledge, inventions, and innovations from academia to industrially applicable solutions. In partnership with SMEs and large enterprises, the PITC supports the creation of new products that utilise photonic systems. Technical support is also provided to companies on their journey towards high-volume production.