photonixFAB poroject logo

The increasing damage to people and properties caused by climate-based catastrophes worldwide has prompted organisations and countries, including the EU, to advocate for a swift and efficient transition to greener energy sources. While there are numerous promising innovations, the matter of silicon photonic supply has yet to be addressed.

Today, European excellence in R&D does not sufficiently translate into industrial manufacturing capabilities, market leadership and technological autonomy in various parts of the semiconductor industry. This also applies to the area of silicon photonics. Photonic chip manufacturing for mature markets today, predominantly for data- and telecom applications, does not happen in Europe, but rather in the US and Asia. The integrated photonics market is relatively young, and foundries require increased agility to be in critical development path of emerging markets that are not at high volume yet. Emerging application domains will further drive the growth of silicon photonics in the next five years, both in wafer volume, economical value and societal impact.

The EU-funded photonixFAB project will bring together key European photonics and semiconductor stakeholders to establish a robust and reliable silicon photonic supply chain. To achieve this goal, the project will leverage several innovations such as the silicon-on-insulator platform, the integration of indium phosphide active components into manufacturing and the incorporation of silicon nitride technology. The end result will be a robust silicon photonic supply.

The main goal is to develop and strengthen the EU open market with a competitive industrial-grade and mass-production scalable SiN and SOI photonics platforms, enhanced with the heterogeneous integration pilot lines to further support SME innovation and prototyping activities on a path to mass production.

The project has defined following six objectives:

  • Establish an industrial manufacturing capability in X-FAB for SOI photonics building on IMEC’s SOI platform.
  • Extend the industrial manufacturing capability in X-FAB for SiN photonics building on LIGENTEC’s SiN platform.
  • Increase maturity of heterogeneous integration of active devices on both SOI and SiN platforms to be low-volume production ready and with a path to high-volume fabrication.
  • To demonstrate platform capability through application partners (datacom, data-center, telecom, sensing, olfaction sensor from Aryballe and fiber-interrogator from PhotonFirst).
  • Strengthen the European silicon photonics industrial supply chain on EDA, packaging and testing, essential elements to offer production-ready technology.
  • Develop an internationally competitive offering which is also accessible to European SME’s.

The project is supported by the Chips Joint Undertaking and its members, including top-up funding by Belgium, Germany, France, Israel, Italy and the Netherlands. The project is also supported by Switzerland separately.