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Silicon Nitride Photonic Integrated Circuit Pilot line for Life Science Applications in the Visible Range

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PIX4LIFE (Silicon Nitride Photonic Integrated Circuit Pilot line for Life Science Applications in the Visible Range)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-06-30

In PIX4life we aim to mature a high performance, high yielding and CMOS-processing compatible SiN Photonic IC pilot line together with the accompanying supply chain for applications in the visible range (400-1000 nm) in order to become the world’s premier pilot line for multitype integrated biophotonic applications. PIX4life will enable miniaturizing and increasing the cost effectiveness of bulky, expensive optical life science systems. We will pave the way towards making the platformavailable in open access for a broader number of customers fromthe (bio-)photonic and life science communities with industrial development in mind.
Technical progress: Work has started as foreseen on platform and process developments, in particular building block designs and PDK, MPW fabrication, packaging development, as well as on the 4 demonstration cases.
Technology improvements of the BioPix and TriPleX SiN photonic platforms have been addressed during the first year. This includes material selection, material characterization and process variability reduction yielding improved manufacturing quality. This remains a continuous activity. LioniX delivered the MPW1 run. IMEC focused on the necessary preparations for the MPW2 run in year 2. In-line process metrology and basic test structures were developed which will support quality control.
Charting relevant building blocks for the envisaged biophotonic applications has taken place with several components already designed as well as the related design of experiments for testing. A first set of process (variability) information has been passed to the designers.
Design activities were accompanied by modeling, validating and improving the PDK and feeding its component model database. The possibilities for standardization were investigated. Repositories facilitating the use of the PDK by designers were setup for both the BioPix and the TriPleX platform. PDKs were enhanced with routing capabilities and design rules for e.g. packaging.
The TriPleX MPW1 successfully happened and learnings on the MPW process from design collection and mask creation were shared across the two platforms. The consortium decided to split the BioPix MPW into two flavors (MPW2a and MPW2b) to capture both ends of the specifications.
Partners aligned on fiber-to-PIC packaging with major activities from year 2 on. Work on advanced integration options for laser sources, detectors, imaging arrays and microfluidics has started: Several sources for laser chips were identified, specifications and potential designs for flip-chip edge and grating coupling specifications were developed and first tests of transfer printing of sources were successfully performed.
PIX4LIFE contains 4 life sciences application cases demonstrating the pilot line capabilities. Specifications and architectural options were identified for each case and identification of building blocks has started. For the OCT-on-chip case, feasibility of near-IR on the TriPleX platform was investigated and two alternative architectures were developed to be designed and processed on the BioPiX MPW 2 run. For the Vital multi-DoF sensor on chip, functionalization options were worked out, an architecture was developed and translated into a mask design for MPW2, layouts and masks for integration with light sources and detectors were defined. For the High-end multispectral microscopy light sources, preliminary demonstrators were already designed and processed in the first MPW run. For the Highly-integrated cytometer for point-of-care diagnostics, a layout for laser-to-chip coupling was designed.
Progress on the Open access model & exploitation: Identification of sufficiently mature technologies and tools for open access was started along a defined set up qualification criteria. Processes for MPW business tracking are under definition. Procedures for the Open Access operation are being put in place to safeguard efficient interaction between the partners of this distributed pilot line. PIX4LIFE has been assessing KPIs and guiding principles in close cooperation with the EU and other pilot line activities (in particular PIXAPP). All activities are on track. The partners have already spent significant and more than initially estimated effort on developing a sustainable business model for this new kind of distributed Open Access pilot line and further attention will be needed.