Deal creates largest European foundry capacity for integrated photonic circuits

September 14, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
Deal creates largest European foundry capacity for integrated photonic circuits
Ligentec and X-fab have created Europe’s largest capacity foundry service for integrated silicon nitride photonics

European foundry X-fab Silicon Foundries is hosting key technology for integrated photonics using silicon nitride.

A strategic partnership deal with Ligentec in Switzerland will create the largest European foundry capacity for this key technology. Photonic integrated circuits (PICs) will play a key role in tomorrow's infrastructure for communication, biosensing and transportation.

Ligentec, a spin out of EPFL in Lausanne, has implemented its proprietary, patented, low-loss cMOS-compatible silicon nitride process technology in X-fab’s existing high-throughput foundry workflow. It means that Ligentec PICs are now commercially available in high volumes out of Europe, a key requisite enabling the secure and independent supply for sensors for self-driving cars, environment monitoring, quantum computers and a range of other applications including medical designs.

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“Silicon nitride offers superior performance to manage the light in the chip circuitry, with unprecedented low propagation losses and high-power handling,” said Michael Zervas, co-founder of Ligentec. “While there is growing worldwide demand for silicon nitride PICs, the missing piece is a commercial volume foundry that can keep pace with the expected uptake.”

“This partnership allows us to offer the benefits of our technology to high volume customers,” said Thomas Hessler, director of Ligentec. “X-fab’s advanced equipment and superior process control will enable us to serve the mass market with elevated performance PICs. Its multiple sites and capacity to deal with 100,000 new 200mm wafer starts per month gives exceptional supply assurance and almost limitless scope for scaling. The proven track record X-fab in the automotive and medical sectors will open up new opportunities for Ligentec.”

“The integrated photonics market has huge potential. 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. We are highly committed to exploring the future possibilities of PICs through our partnership with Ligentec, acting as a pillar of strong growth for X-FAB’s specialty foundry business,” said Rudi De Winter, CEO of X-FAB.

Ligentec is now taking volume production requests for low-loss silicon nitride PICs, based on 200 mm wafers.

www.ligentec.com; www.xfab.com

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