The anticipated large reduction in R&D time and chip manufacturing costs will lead to a large growth in the share of Photonic ICs in the photonic components market. So far the use of PICs has been mainly restricted to applications in the telecom core-network, where their specific functionality cannot be met by competing technologies.
As many more companies can profit from lowcost access to fabrication of Photonic Integrated Circuits using generic foundries, this opens up a whole new range of applications, including data communications, fibre-to-the-home, fibre sensors, gas sensing, medical diagnostics, metrology and consumer photonics.
In the framework of the EU projects EuroPIC and PARADIGM, and the Dutch MEMPHIS project, a large number of Application Specific Photonic ICs have been developed and tested. More than 250 designs have already been processed on the foundry platforms, of which many are for industrial and project-external users.
The open access foundry model is particularly important for SMEs; it provides them with access to this high tech field with relatively low entrance costs. We expect that the foundry model will first be adopted for fields that are presently attractive for SMEs. Examples are the markets for fibre sensing equipment, medical diagnostics methods like Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), photonic beam steering and metrology. But also in telecommunications and data communications it will become important especially for applications that require advanced functionality. Here the shortened R&D time achieved using generic processes will provide the foundry approach with a competitive advantage.
We foresee also interesting developments through combination of InP and TriPleX platform capabilities. Research is underway to enable low-cost precision co-assembly of InP and TriPleX chips which will bring us a hybrid platform technology in which we can combine the active functionality and high-speed operation of InP technology with the record low-loss capabilities of the TriPleX platform.
Whilst we expect that the foundry model will begin by penetrating small to medium volume markets, we expect it to become competitive in high-volume markets in due course because of the steady increase in capability and erformance that is anticipated.
Some examples of applications:
Pim Kat, CEO, Technobis group
TFT-FOS has made a tremendous step forward in the development of dedicated FBG interrogator systems. Three of our basic InP ASPIC designs have been adopted by large OEM customers and two of them will result in commercial products this year. The opportunity of experimenting in JePPIX/PARADIGM and the support of the Bright Photonics designer helped us to create a lot of new business.
Mark Thompson, Quantum Photonics – University of Bristol
As a University research group, it is essential that we work at the cutting edge of science, engineering and technology. The multi-project wafer approach of JePPIX / Paradigm makes this possible by enabling affordable access to state-of-the-art photonic device fabrication facilities that would otherwise be prohibitory expensive and out of the reach of typical academic research. This approach has allowed us to develop prototype device concepts in the emerging field of quantum communications.
Gerlas van den Hoven, CEO, Genexis
Fibre-to-the-home will be one of the major infrastructure investments of the 21st century, providing end-user access to the digital highway. The role of photonics is crucial to enabling this. The challenges are cost, power consumption and density; and the key to solving those challenges lies in nano photonics and photonic integration. It is exactly these themes that the JePPIX roadmap addresses.