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InP Membrane on Silicon technology for a broad range of applications

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - IMOS4ALL (InP Membrane on Silicon technology for a broad range of applications)

Reporting period: 2019-07-01 to 2021-03-31

Photonic integrated technologies are key enablers for high-speed, on-demand communications, precision sensors, imaging and metrology. The current state-of-the-art photonics technologies rely on optical fibers as the interface. The bulk size of the fibers is becoming a hinder to the miniaturisation and complexity of the photonic circuits. Currently there is an absence of chip scale solutions for connector-less communications and sensor circuits which demands optical wireless connection. Examples include environmental sensors, metrology sensors and Internet-of-Things engines. A novel photonic integrated technology, InP membrane on Silicon (IMOS), has been pioneered in the ERC Advanced Grant NoLimits. Key components, the lasers and amplifiers, have been successfully demonstrated in NoLimits. The unique potential of combining the lasers and amplifiers with integrated nanophotonic devices (such as gratings and photonic crystals) into a complete platform have been identified. Such technology offers a route to exquisite optical beam control within the chip, and removes the need for fiber optic connectivity, micro-mechanical-assemblies and off-chip optics.

It is the ambition of the IMOS4ALL project to validate the platform concept and demonstrate its potential in wide applications. IMOS4ALL project has implemented the most comprehensive set of active and nanophotonic building blocks as created in the ERC NoLimits and have made them available within one wafer scale process and validated the platform with industry-inspired circuits. The building blocks have been standardised in the form of a first nanophotonics process design kit (PDK), which is then made available to internal and invited international circuit designers from industry and academia. In order to validate the building blocks and the processes, short-loop experiments were carried out at the beginning of the project. The experiments mainly target on several technical challenges that were identified when evolving from single devices and small sample sizes (NoLimits) to full platform with many different devices integrated (IMOS4ALL). Based on the results, the process flow is frozen, together with the release of the first public version of the PDK. During the course of the project, two multi-project wafer (MPW) runs have been carried out. The first MPW run aimed at validating the PDK and process. Therefore it was performed on a relatively small wafer size of 2 inch. The second run was performed at full 3-inch wafer scale and contained added functionalities. The second MPW also used the professional JePPIX operational procedures for the entire preparation, design, user support and manufacturing phases (Note: JePPIX is the world leading platform for integrated photonics supply chain, www.jeppix.eu).

Both MPW runs were organized successfully. It should be mentioned that, due to the impact of the COVID lockdown, the second MPW was delayed and the manufacturing is still on-going at the time of the project reporting. Using the two MPW runs as the vehicle, we have engaged to broader and more international industry and academia than we originally named in the proposal. Joint publications from the partners have been generated from some of the promising results. Some of the collaborations even enabled new projects, including industrial master projects with ASML, Nokia Bell Labs and Lumerical Inc., as well as PhD research projects sponsored by Keysight Technologies and ASML. Furthermore, the IMOS4ALL project team works closely with the JePPIX, especially in its industrial roadmapping activities. The team has actively participated in and contributed to the latest JePPIX Roadmap 2021-2025 (https://www.jeppix.eu/knowledge/roadmap/). The concept of the IMOS4ALL is positioned as an important future photonic integration technology node, and its potential for wide applications is well highlighted by the roadmap. With the roadmap as the vehicle, the concept and results of IMOS4ALL can reach to an even broader audience worldwide.