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PHIX: expanding the boundaries of knowledge within the FLEXIT project

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Within FLEXIT’s Dutch ecosystem for integrated photonics, PHIX leads the hybrid integration and assembly of PICs (Photonic Integrated Circuits), providing scalable packaging solutions for a suite of applications to address various societal and technological challenges. Leveraging years of experience in product design, assembly development and equipment management in different industries, PHIX is contributing to the FLEXIT project by developing industrial processes for the high-speed, automated, robust and reliable assembly of modules based on InP and TriPleX PICs and their seamless integration with electronic ICs in scalable volumes. This will reduce production costs and accelerate the adoption of this new technology.

Integrated photonics has emerged as the technology of the future. At the moment, there is no single material platform that can efficiently generate, guide, manipulate and detect light at a low cost while also being compatible with standard processes used in the semiconductor industry. Hybrid photonic packaging and the integration of photonic and electronic ICs is therefore necessary to satiate consumer demand. This activity is challenging for various reasons and can take up to 80% of a product’s costs. For example, different material platforms have different optical, electrical, thermal and mechanical properties. Once they are assembled on the common substrate, each of these hybrid chip materials will react differently to moisture, mechanical and temperature stresses, particularly at the interface region between two chips, causing potential delamination. Meanwhile, the lack of standardisation makes it difficult for different modules and systems to be efficiently assembled to communicate together seamlessly in a package.

The commercial introduction of emerging technologies requires long and complex multi-layer product development, industrialisation and qualification cycles at all levels of the value chain, from initial product design, material sourcing, component-system-module manufacturing and testing to the marketing and delivery of new products to the market. Fortunately for FLEXIT, PHIX brings the wealth of experience in different industries needed to develop new assembly processes that will enable the complex hybrid integration of TriPleX and InP photonic integrated modules with electronic ICs in the same package. Their added value is anchored in packaging expertise and the development of automated, accurate and reliable assembly processes, including for the placement and fixation of modules, the implementation of a cooling system if necessary and the bridging of the gap between photonics and electronics ICs by making them compatible with the current manufacturing processes at PHIX.

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The FLEXIT project is funded by:

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