Spain plans compound semiconductor photonics foundry

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The city of Vigo in Spain is to host a new foundry for building photonic devices with compound semiconductors.  

SPARC, the III-V Semiconductor Foundry and Advanced Photonics Research Centre, will consist of a 1.600 m2 clean room for wafer production and a research centre that will in the development of fully-certified photonic products.

The foundry will be operational around late 2023. Funding details are sketchy, but would be a key part of the proposed European photonics supply chain project. The foundry is pitched with a focus on materials such as GaAs, InP and GaN, implying the use of a number of reactors and basic lithography.

An equivalent compound semiconductor photonics foundry in the UK, called  QFoundry, is being set up at the Compound Semiconductor Centre in Wales with £5.7m (€6.3m), but this has a specific focus on VCSEL lasers for photonic quantum computers

Instead SPARC in Spain says it will be able to address a large customer base across a wide range of different markets, including optical communications, displays, lighting, aerospace, automotive, biomedical, sensing, and quantum technologies, as well as high-speed- and/or high-power electronics.

However it is also talking about integrated photonics, which is based around CMOS technology and would require significantly more funding. GlobalFoundries recently launched an innovation lab to support the development of CMOS integrated photonic devices in Europe, and X-Fab has also launched an integrated photonics CMOS foundry for Europe. Tower Semiconductor, being acquired by Intel, also has an open photonics platform.

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