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Innovative ground-breaking technologies such as nano-satellite-based space navigation and autonomous navigation are currently hindered by the lack of compact, efficient sensing devices. The adoption of photonic integrated circuits (PICs) for these applications has been restricted by the challenge of integrating complete photonic sensors without an optical interface within the same chip.

The aim of the INPHOMIR project is to establish a competitive and independent European supply chain of monolithic PIC building blocks, operating at near and mid-infrared wavelengths, by proposing the Indium Phosphide platform as a viable solution for technological scale-up. Scientific activities will involve validating PICs with new ultralow loss waveguides and mid-infrared active devices, as well as demonstrating advanced building blocks such as extremely high-quality factor resonators at telecom wavelengths (exploring optical loss compensation and slow light effect in photonic crystals), Hertz-level narrow-linewidth quantum cascade lasers, and ultra-low-power sensitive heterodyne detectors at mid-infrared wavelengths. These advanced components will be utilised to realise, for the first time, an integrated optical gyroscope and a dual-band mid-infrared Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) lidar. These two novel sensors will be integrated onto a multi-chip module board to validate a novel multi-sensorial unit with unique ranging and inertial sensing capabilities, to be exploited for aerospace missions of low-earth-orbit nano-satellites and self-driving drones.

To this end, a consortium comprising academic and industrial partners has been established to provide the necessary expertise and synergy in front-end (design, microfabrication) and back-end (packaging, testing, sensor fusion) research activities, as well as specifications definition and technological validation/exploitation of the developed use-cases. The proposed multi-sensor module will catalyse the advancement of miniaturised and advanced technologies in leading EU industries.