LIGENTEC, located at the EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) Switzerland, is a foundry service provider that manufactures Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs) for customers in high-tech areas such as datacom, quantum technologies, space, LiDAR and sensing.
As explained by company co-founder Dr. Michael Geiselmann, LIGENTEC has commercialized its allnitride-core technology, enabling the development of products that support Industry 4.0 and other wide-ranging applications. Photonic integration is the process of downsizing optical components typically utilizing processes and techniques that have enabled microelectronic devices such as CMOS ICs to reduce their size while increasing performance. The emergence of photonic integration techniques is built around the idea of using photons instead of electrons as the basis for future advances in datacom, telecom and new photonic computing technologies. A miniaturized footprint can make optical operations much more power efficient and cost effective to manufacture.
MA: After creating a PIC component concept, that idea needs to become an actual design to be in a future MWP run – Has LIGENTEC made advances to ease the design phase?
MG: Back in March (2019), LIGENTEC streamlined the design process for SiN photonic integrated circuits (PICs) with VPI Photonics and its current partner, VLC Photonics.
Designers that use LIGENTEC AN (all-nitride) technology will now benefit from a workflow that starts from a graphical photonic integrated circuit (PIC) design and system simulation environment, which seamlessly couples to layout design tools for scripted circuit layout and DRC capabilities. The new workflow is based on LIGENTEC and VLC Photonics reference designs with the simulation software by VPIphotonics using verified measurements of fabricated chips.
The design workflow is enabled by the new VPItoolkit PDK LIGENTEC – a pluggable toolkit extension to VPIcomponentMaker Photonic Circuits; it adds support of the AN800, which is LIGENTEC’S 800 nm silicon nitride process available either through dedicated shuttle runs or Multi-Project Wafer (MPW) runs.
LIGENTEC’s AN800 process provides many benefits including a very tight bending radius (< 0.005 dB for 10 turns); very low coupling losses (< 1.5 dB/facet); very low propagation losses (< 0.1 dB/cm) and very high power handling (up to 10 W tested).