imec shows co-integration of SiN waveguides and active silicon photonics

imec shows co-integration of SiN waveguides and active silicon photonics

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

imec in Belgium has demonstrated co-integration of its high-quality silicon nitride (SiN) waveguide technology with its silicon photonics platform without performance degradation of the high-bandwidth active devices.

This is an important upgrade for imec’s silicon photonics platform and enables the synthesis of high-quality wavelength-selective devices and other optical passive functions that benefit from accurate optical phase control. Applications include integrated optical transceivers for datacoms and LiDAR sensing.

Adding a high-quality silicon nitride (SiN) boosts silicon photonics integrated circuits (PIC) with reduced propagation loss, accurate phase control, low-loss light coupling, lower thermal variation, and high power handling.

High-quality SiN layers achieving low optical losses and excellent control over the material properties, such as thickness and refractive index variability, are crucial for improving the energy efficiency of Si-based optical transceivers. Since such high-quality SiN layers are deposited by the low-pressure chemical vapor deposition (LPCVD) method at elevated temperatures, it is vital to avoid degrading the performance of the co-integrated baseline Si and Ge devices.

Imec has tackled those integration challenges within its iSiPP silicon photonics platform which is available for industrial partners. These partners include photonic quantum computer developer Xanadu in Canada.

The process optimisation has shown a four times reduction of the variability of the resonant wavelength of SiN-based micro-rings compared to the same device made with the PECVD silicon nitride, currently used in the imec platform, without degrading the co-integrated active devices.

“We are excited to have achieved this major upgrade of our silicon photonics platform. The ability to co-integrate high-quality SiN devices with our baseline technology is important to broaden our offering to our partners who can now consider system simplification with single PIC solutions to combine active and SiN passive functions,” said Philippe Absil, vice president at imec.

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