The business case for PIC users

For companies that are manufacturing or developing photonic products, Photonic ICs will bring major advantages:

  • Integration of a subsystem consisting of a number of individual components, such as lasers, modulators, detectors, couplers and filters, will reduce the overall manufacturing costs, including the bill of materials, by an order of magnitude, because only one chip has to be packaged instead of a number of discrete components. In cases where the packaging costs are dominant, the cost of the packaged integrated circuit will be much lower than the cost of the  separate packaged components.
  • The elimination of a lot of fibre-chip coupling and packaging leads to a better optical and mechanical stability of the sub-system, lower power consumption (less Peltier cooling) and a much smaller form factor.
  • While the above mentioned advantages are common to all integration models, the generic foundry model brings the low-cost advantage already at much lower volumes, because of the cost sharing inherent to the approach. Further, through the use of MPW runs, it offers the additional advantage of low entry costs, which make it affordable particularly for SMEs and exploratory design projects.

The situation is comparable with the situation in microelectronics in the seventies, where integrated circuits replaced discrete circuits in most applications. Examples of photonic ICs that may replace existing equipment are PICs for telecoms and datacoms applications, for application in fibre sensor readout units, and for use in medical diagnostics and metrology. In the former field, the US company Infinera is a prominent example of how PICs can revolutionize business strategy.

The higher complexity that is possible in PICs and the short and stable interconnections, allow new functionalities, for example a whole range of phase sensitive functions which cannot be realized with sufficient stability in fibre-based systems. This will give rise to novel products with functionalities that are presently not practically feasible. For such novel applications the business case will have more uncertainties about the market.

We expect that the combined advantages of lower cost, smaller form factor, greater stability and lower power consumption will provide a promising business case for a large number of companies, as soon as qualified foundry processes become commercially available.

Other business cases.

More about the JePPIX roadmap.

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