Wave Photonics in Cambridge is leading a UK project to develop new packaging techniques for quantum photonic integrated circuits (QPICs).
The £500,000 (€575,000) Quantum Photonic Integrated Circuit PACkaging (QPICPAC) project brings together Alter Technology TUV NORD UK, Senko Advanced Components, the University of Southampton and the University of Bristol to develop the new packaging which aims to speed up the development of photonic chips for quantum computers, encryption systems and sensors.
The project will develop a template-driven approach to minimise custom development requirements and costs for quantum technology companies. This will be used by Quantum Dice in Bristol as a trial customer for its QPIC-based quantum random number generator to provide insights into the needs of quantum photonics companies intending to make products in high volume.
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Photonic chips use CMOS fabrication techniques and are already used in transceivers for data centres, LiDAR for autonomous vehicles and sensors for healthcare applications, but they are especially useful for quantum technologies.
However, the route from a chip design to a finished product is not simple. A key issue is packaging – getting light on and off the chip, as well as making sure that the end device is suitable for the environment in which it will be deployed. Currently, this is a bespoke process, which means that it is slower to develop and more expensive than it needs to be.
Wave Photonics is using computational techniques to accelerate integrated photonics design to address the lack of libraries of photonics components and the difficult of accounting for process imperfections. It is developing tools to automatically account for process imperfections and develop high-quality, robust libraries of components to enable photonic chip designers to rapidly develop and scale their products.
Typically, demonstrations of quantum photonics technologies like trapped ion computing or quantum secure communication use bulky, expensive optical setups which aren’t suitable for mass production. As QPICs are made using scalable semiconductor fabrication processes, they can be made reliably at high volume and are key for making quantum technologies manufacturable at scale.
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The design templates and components to minimise the amount of bespoke work needed, meaning that packaging will be simpler and more affordable for those seeking to exploit QPIC technologies.
“Having worked on integrated photonics for over a decade, it’s thrilling to see the pace that quantum photonics is progressing. I’m looking forward to working with the consortium to develop solutions to help accelerate the already rapid progress in the QPIC industry,” said Jiangbo Zhu, Senior Photonics Engineer at Wave Photonics.
“This project offers a unique opportunity to bring together representatives of all the stake holders in the quantum PIC world and push forward in the UK the commercialisation of quantum technology,” Rob Roach, Business Development Manager at Alter, which opened a quantum photonics lab at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland.
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Optical connector maker Senko Advanced Components is a wholly owned subsidiary of Senko Advance in Japan which has dozens of design and manufacturing facilities providing local support to customers all around the globe. To date, Senko has deployed over 800 million connectors, and it has over 150 awarded patents, with more than 300 pending.
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