New H2020 project INSPIRE will revolutionize photonic integrated circuit technology by combining highest optoelectronic efficiencies in InP photonics and lowest optical loss in SiN photonics, in a single platform through wafer-scale micro-transfer printing technology.
Major photonic integration platforms, i.e., silicon, silicon nitride (SiN) or indium phosphide (InP) based, are now mature and make their impact in the real world, for example by enabling our internet. The potential for wider impact in other fields, such as sensors, is clear. However, the performance trade-offs within a single platform are sometimes limiting the uptake. Most notably, applications in high-performance fiber sensors, for example for infrastructure monitoring, and microwave signal processing, for example for Radar systems, would require low-noise operation, which requires the combination of best-in-class actives, such as lasers, modulators, and photodetectors, with ultra-low loss waveguide propagation. This requires the combination of such platforms, taking a "best of both worlds" approach. By ensuring scalability and manufacturability, major impact on these demanding application fields is expected.
Our platform, through wafer-scale micro-transfer printing technology, will allow us to combine high-performance III-V opto-electronic components, such as InP-based semiconductor optical amplifiers, high-speed modulators and photodetectors, operating in the C-band, with the low-loss passive functionalities of the SiN platform, like filters and delay lines. The micro-transfer printing integration, on 200-mm silicon wafers, enables high-throughput integration of III-V devices on SiN photonic integrated circuits, which is key for low cost and scalability. To show the potential to impact a wide range of high-volume-markets, the INSPIRE technology will be validated by three use cases: a distributed fiber-sensing readout unit, a microwave photonic radio-frequency pulse generator, and a datacentre switch fabric. Compact models of the III-V opto-electronic components will be developed, enabling designers to exploit this platform for a wide range of applications.