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Scaling All Nitride Photonic Integrated Circuits for future markets

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SPECTRA (Scaling All Nitride Photonic Integrated Circuits for future markets)

Reporting period: 2020-09-01 to 2021-11-30

The Sensing and Communication markets are predicted to increase tremendously over the next few years, especially pushed from medical instrumentation, diagnostics, autonomous driving, quantum computing and communication. Photonic Integration, the ability to shrink complex optical systems on a small chip, is one of the key technologies with an enabling and highly disruptive potential in those verticals.

LIGENTEC has developed a unique thick Silicon Nitride (SiN) technology which enables the manufacturing of Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs) at better performance and lower cost than common approaches. The technology has reached TRL 7 and gained a lot of customer traction in prototyping.

SPECTRA focuses on industrialising the manufacturing processes of LIGENTEC’s PICs and preparing for scale-up including a quality control line for production and certifying the technology to industry standards. It is strategic to the company as it enables LIGENTEC to enter the volume market.

The overall objectives of SPECTRA are to

- Make LIGENTEC’s PIC technology a world leading technology for quantum, LiDAR and Space markets, at industrial scale
- Setup and validate a quality control and metrology line for PIC fabrication at scale
- Have certified reference designs to industry standards allowing easier design for customers enabling new applications in new markets
- Be ready to enter volume market
- Have demonstrated increased production repeatability, yield and proven product reliability.
During the last reporting period LIGENTEC established a strategic partnership with the semiconductor producer X-FAB Silicon Foundries, for the large-scale supply of PICs. In this context, and with the support of SPECTRA, LIGENTEC transferred its technology to X-FAB’s high-throughout foundry workflow.

Significant progress has been made on the development of the Design Library for volume production. LIGENTEC reference designs have been designed following industry standards advancing the Process Design Kit.

We have participated in several conferences during 2021, such as the PIC International conference 2021 (Nov 2021, Brussels), PHOTONICS+ Virtual Exhibition and Conference (June 2021, online), CIOE China 2021 (Sep 2021, Shenzhen), where we presented our volume capability and SPECTRA’s achievements.
LIGENTEC PICs are now commercially available out of a high volume fab located in Europe, a key requisite enabling the secure and independent supply of the quantities foreseen, in relation to sensors for self-driving cars, environment monitoring, quantum computers and an array of other applications.

This is the first step towards an European sovereignty of volume supply of low loss photonic integrated circuits.