Technology Roadmap for Photonic Integration

As a result of significant investments in the development of foundry technology infrastructure (well over 50 M€ in European and national projects so far) Europe is making substantial progress in this new way of working. In this section we give an overview of the present status of the foundry capabilities of the JePPIX partners and a prediction for the status in 2016, 2018 and 2020.

In 2007 the COBRA institute at TU Eindhoven started pioneering small scale foundry access to a first generation research platform in the framework of the EU-FP6 Network of Excellence ePIXnet using its own cleanroom facilities and know-how. Process capabilities have been gradually improved and presently support design of ASPICs integrating lasers, optical amplifiers, modulators and detectors with 10 Gbits/s speed, and a variety of passive optical components. In 2009 the FP7 EuroPIC project began with the mission of transferring the foundry model from a university environment into industrial platforms (the wafer fabs of Oclaro in the UK and Fraunhofer-HHI in Germany) and started development of process design kits (PDK) and standardized packaging solutions. EuroPIC successfully pioneered the world’s first photonic MPW-runs in generic industrial foundry processes in 2012. Oclaro tested a transmitter type platform offering a variety of lasers and optical amplifiers, modulators and detectors for 10 Gbits/s operation and passive building blocks like MMI-couplers and AWGs. Fraunhofer HHI tested a receiver type platform offering detectors for operation up to 40 Gbits/s, integrated with a variety of passive devices and thermo-optic phase modulators.
The COBRA process was licensed to the spin-off company SMART Photonics, providing the first pure-play foundry services for ASPICs.

LioniX started developing its TriPleX technology for low-loss dielectric waveguide devices and circuits in 2004. First devices focused on microwave photonics applications, but over the last ten  years the technology has been developed into a very advanced platform appropriate for a broad range of applications covering a wide wavelength range – from the visible to the infrared.

Situation 2014
Since 2014 all four JePPIX foundries have been offering semi-commercial access to early versions
of their foundry processes. The capabilities of the platforms are briefly summarized below.

  • The Oclaro platform offers optical amplifiers, rf modulators, detectors, tunable Bragg gratings, Spot-Size Converters (SSCs) and a variety of passive components including MMI couplers and AWGs. The SOAs provide about 50 cm-1 gain over the whole C-band and can deliver 50 mW output power in the output waveguide. The rf modulators support 10 Gbits/s modulation with 3.5 V modulation voltage, for a modulator length of under 1 mm. The detectors have a responsivity of 0.7 A/W and a 10 GHz bandwidth. Tunable Bragg gratings support tuning over 7-8 nm. The Spot Size Converters (SSCs) with a 3 μm spot diameter provide coupling to lensed fibres with 1-2 dB coupling loss. The waveguide propagation loss is about 3 dB/cm. Typical insertion losses for MMI optical splitters and AWG de/multiplexers are 1 dB and 3 dB, respectively.
  • The HHI platform, starting as a ”receiver-only” platform, offers very high-speed photodetectors, SSCs, thermo-optic phase modulators and a variety of passive waveguide components. The rf detectors exhibit an internal responsivity of 0.9 A/W, a dark current <10 nA and an electrooptical bandwidth of 40 GHz. SSCs provide 1.5 dB coupling loss to a cleaved Standard Single Mode Fibre. Waveguide propagation loss varies between <1 dB/cm for low-contrast waveguides to some 2 dB/cm for high-contrast waveguides. MMI couplers and AWG de/multiplexers have typical losses of 0.5-1 dB and 2-3 dB, respectively.
  • The SMART Photonics platform offers optical amplifiers, rf modulators, detectors and a variety of passive components. The SOAs provide about 50 cm-1 gain and 20 mW output power. The rf modulators support 10 Gbits/s modulation with 5 V drive voltage for 2 mm long phase modulators. Detectors have 0.8 A/W responsivity and >20 GHz bandwidth. Waveguide propagation losses are 2-3 dB/cm.
  • The TriPleX platform offers low-loss straight waveguides, bends, S-bends, offsets, splitters, spot size converters, lateral tapers and thermooptic phase shifters. Combinations of these building blocks allow, for example, the creation of microwave photonics ASPICs through combinations of Mach-Zehnders and micro ring resonators. The current platform has guaranteed losses below 0.5 dB/cm and results reported by customers have been as low as 0.1 dB/cm.

Roadmap 2016
In 2016 the following extensions and improvements for the platforms are foreseen. All platforms will
offer a basic level of platform qualification, including some early yield figures. In addition to the  process development activities, work will commence to improve the contents of the PDKs.

  • The Oclaro platform will provide transmit and receive capabilities (modulators and detectors) for operation at 40 Gbits/s. Modulators will operate at 40 Gbits/s with 3.5 V drive voltage. Detectors  have 0.9 A/W responsivity.
  • The HHI platform will add transmitter capabilities to its current receiver platform: SOAs, DFB/DBR lasers and EAMs. Further, it will add Polarisation Converters, thus providing the platform with polarisation handling capabilities. The platform will support 25 Gbits/s modulation, either by direct modulation of the DFB lasers or using Electro-Absorption Modulators.
  • The SMART Photonics platform will offer less than 1 dB/cm waveguide propagation loss and support 100 nm device features (using 193 nm DUV scanner lithography), which will lead to enhanced performance and reduced insertion loss of passive components. Further, it will add Spot Size Converters and improve the efficiency of its detectors and modulators
  • The TriPleX platform will add more advanced building blocks to its current library. Structures like AWGs and micro ring resonators are on the roadmap of LioniX for implementation in the platform. It is also foreseen that the guaranteed loss will be lowered close to the best-case reported value of 0.1 dB/cm and that low power phase tuning will be introduced.

Roadmap 2018
In 2018 all platforms will offer an extended level of platform qualification, including yield and lifetime
figures. All platforms will offer low loss waveguides (<1 dB/cm), efficient SOAs, modulators and  detectors, polarisation converters and spot-size converters and provide a performance comparable to the state-ofthe-art application specific processes available on the market.

  • The TriPleX platform will offer integrated MEMS structures that enable, for example, low-cost highprecision coupling between InP and TriPleX PICs, thus providing a hybrid platform that combines the best of InP and TriPleX technology; high performance active devices and very low-loss and high-Q passive functionality.
  • The COBRA research platform. In 2010, research started on the InP Membrane on Silicon technology (IMOS). This approach will make it possible to fabricate InP photonic ICs on 200 or even 300 mm silicon wafers. In 2015 we started research on wafer scale integration of InP photonics and BiCMOS electronics, first demonstrators are expected in 2018. Small scale experimental access would follow shortly after. The intimate integration of highspeed electronics, digital electronics and photonic ICs in the same chip will have a profound impact on module costs and performance.

Roadmap 2020
In addition to high-performance photonic technologies, R&D-level MPW runs will be offered that combine wafer-scale photonic/electronic integration processes. In these processes, the full  functionality of photonic platforms will be provided on top of (Bi)CMOS ICs in which the driver, receiver and control electronics are integrated.

More about the JePPIX roadmap.

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