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European electro-optic and nonlinear PIC platform based on lithium niobate

Project description

A novel photonics platform and a fully European supply chain to support it

Photonics integrated circuits (PICs), much like their electronic counterparts, are chips that can contain hundreds of photonic components, harnessing photons instead of electrons. They are the disruptive technology supporting a plethora of next-generation high-performance, low-energy and miniaturised devices. The EU-funded ELENA project is developing photonic building blocks based on promising lithium niobate that will improve the existing functionalities of PICs and enable novel ones. The project will ensure their rapid and streamlined application via associated packaging that allows interfacing with optical fibres and is compatible with other PIC platforms. Finally, the technology will be showcased in four PIC prototypes in the fields of telecommunications, quantum technologies and microwave photonics.


ELENA will develop the first European lithium niobate on insulator (LNOI) PIC platform, accessible to all interested entities in the form of an open foundry service. Lithium niobate (LiN) is one of the most promising emerging materials for PICs that comprises a unique set of interesting optical properties: a high electo-optic (EO) coefficient, a high intrinsic second-order nonlinearity, and a large transparency window. The focus of ELENA will be on developing 5 advanced photonic building blocks (BBs) which exploit the unique properties of LiN to enable novel functionalities in PIC (e.g. wavelength conversion and parametric gain) and to improve the existing ones (e.g. faster, more energy-efficient EO modulators). These BBs will be a part of comprehensive PDK library that will be accessible to entities outside of the consortium. ELENA’s approach will enable reliable monolithic integration of the LiN BBs to implement complex functionalities with better sensitivity, higher energy efficiency, faster speed and increased chip density. ELENA’s technologies will be applicable to a broad range of applications from telecom to LIDAR, quantum technologies and space.
Moreover, ELENA’s ambition is to establish the key steps of a fully European supply chain to support the LiN platform. This include activities such as
• Establish a process to produce 150mm optical grade LNOI wafers on an industrial scale
• Develop a reliable and flexible packaging solution to interface LiN chips with optical fibers and other PIC platforms
• Demonstrate the technology and validate the results by developing 4 PIC prototypes designed by 3 “end-user” partners covering fields of telecom, quantum technologies and microwave photonics
The ELENA project (42 months, €5M) with a consortium of 3 RTDs , 3 large industrials and 3 SMEs contains all the necessary competencies to reduce the R&D costs of advanced PICs and implement the key aspects of a value chain for a sustainable LiN based PIC industry in Europe

Call for proposal


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Net EU contribution
€ 1 633 393,75
2000 Neuchatel

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Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera Espace Mittelland Neuchâtel
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 1 633 393,75

Participants (11)