X-Fab Silicon Foundries has teamed up with Ligentec SA (Lausanne, Switzerland) to provide what it claims is Europe’s largest capacity foundry service for integrated photonic circuits. Ligentec is a 2016 spin-off from EPFL Lausanne and provides silicon-nitride photonic solutions.
Ligentec has formed a partnership with X-Fab to scale up the production of its CMOS-compatible photonic circuits. Likely applications include sensors for self-driving cars, environmental monitoring and quantum computing.
“While there is growing worldwide demand for silicon nitride PICs [photonic integrated circuits], the missing piece is a commercial volume foundry that can keep pace with the expected uptake,” said Michael Zervas, co-founder of Ligentec, in a statement from X-Fab.
“We have partnered with Ligentec because it has the highest performance and the most mature offering for passive PICs. This is complemented by a great customer orientation and strong development pipeline, rooted in the company’s long-term R&D relationship with EPFL in Lausanne,” said Rudi De Winter, CEO of X-Fab, in the same statement.
Specialty foundry Tower Semiconductor Ltd. (Migdal Haemek, Israel) has formed a collaboration with Quintessent Inc. (Santa Barbara, Calif.) to create a silicon photonics process with integrated quantum dot lasers. A particular point of application for such circuits is in optical connectivity in data centers and in optical artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Next: SiPho process
The SiPho process will be based in Tower’s established PH18 silicon photonics platform with the addition of Quintessent’s III-V quantum dot-based lasers and optical amplifiers to enable a suite of active and passive silicon photonic elements. The initial process development kit (PDK) is planned in 2021, with multi-project wafer runs (MPWs) following in 2022.
“Quintessent and Tower are re-defining the frontiers of integrated silicon photonics under this effort,” said John Bowers, University of California Santa Barbara Professor and Quintessent co-founder. Quintessent was formed as a spin-off from the university in 2019.
The co-integration of lasers and amplifiers with silicon photonics at the circuit element level will improve overall power efficiency, eliminate traditional design constraints such as on-chip loss budgets, simplify packaging, and make possible new product architectures and functionalities. For example, a silicon photonic transceiver or sensor product with integrated lasers will be capable of complete self-test at the chip or wafer level. These advantages are further enhanced by employing semiconductor quantum-dots as the active optical gain media, which enables devices with greater reliability, lower noise, and the ability to operate efficiently at higher temperatures.
Related links and articles: