More photonic pilot-lines for Europe

Monday, 11 March, 2019
indium phosphide photonic integrated circuits
The latest addition to the European photonic pilot-line projects has officially started with the launch of InPulse in January 2019. InPulse is the fifth EU-funded pilot-line to be launched in the past 3 years and focuses on indium phosphide Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs) and subsystems.

The project will be offering design, testing & prototyping services in indium phosphide devices with extensive capabilities for preproduction runs and support for volume production.  InPulse is expecting to have new manufacturing process design kits from 2021 for customer trials but access to prototyping services is already up and running, building on the technology and ecosystem from JePPIX (Joint European Platform for Photonic Integration of Components and Circuits). The project welcomes early enquiries from potential users of the pilot-line.

Five pilot-lines have become a reality thanks to more than 50 million euros of targeted  EU-funding aimed at enhancing the already vibrant European photonic ecosystem.  Further expansion of this ecosystem is anticipated via an additional EU funding of 30 million euros that is ear-marked for new photonic pilot-lines on free-form optics and optical medical devices under the current Horizon2020 call for proposals ICT-3.

The overall aim of the pilot lines is to enable high-tech SMEs in Europe to take their good ideas, scale-them up and validate them with customers for commercial production.  All the pilot-lines provide a low barrier entry via cost effective pricing and potential customers are invited to contact them at an early stage in their product development planning.

A key remit of all existing and future pilot lines is to  become sustainable after the initial 4-year duration and continue to offer their state-of-the-art technologies and services on a commercial basis to potential users, in particular European SMEs, with a low barrier and open access.  The pilot-lines will give SMEs easy access to advanced manufacturing services & cost-intensive infrastructures together with the expertise needed to manufacture new and innovative products.

In addition to InPulse, there are 4 other European photonic pilot-lines in operation as outlined below.

 
   

PI-SCALE, recently rebranded as LYTEUS, offers world class capability in pilot production services for customised flexible OLEDs (Organic Light-Emitting Diodes).  The technology provides large area, energy efficient light sources that are ultra-thin, flexible and lightweight.  These can be made in any shape or colour and in a large range of sizes allowing new opportunities for customers to create high value-added products in numerous application areas ranging from architectural lighting and automotive to aerospace and consumer electronics. LYTEUS enables companies to quickly and cost effectively test and scale up their flexible OLED lighting concepts and turn them into market ready products. LYTEUS brings together 14 expert partners, from 5 European countries and is coordinated by Holst Centre, the Netherlands.

OLED strip made by LYTEUS using a roll to roll manufacturing processes.

MIRPHAB offers prototyping and production of innovative sensors in the mid-IR range, for the detection of chemicals in gas and  liquids. MIRPHAB platform is based on miniaturized laser-based systems and will allow the manufacturing of compact, low cost and low power consumption sensing devices which can be used for safety, security and environmental applications. The industry partners involved in MIRPHAB are committed to deploy new products swiftly in the market and achieve prompt take up in the environmental and chemical sensing areas. The project brings together 19 leading organisations from 9 European countries and is coordinated by CEA-Leti, France. The users can access the pilot line via a unique gateway for the design and development and the pre-series fabrication of sensing systems.  To implement the chemical sensor fitting the application requirements set by the users one can combine standard building blocks for sources, integrated optics, and detectors. The volume production is then taken by our industrial partners.

 
   

 

 
   

PIX4Life is focussed on a state-of-the-art silicon nitride photonic integrated circuit technology for life science applications in the visible range ( 400-1000nm). PIX4Life enables the miniaturization and increases the cost effectiveness of complex bulky, expensive optical life science systems. PIX4Life offers a complete supply chain of services including design expertise, manufacturing, testing and packaging and makes this technology available for a broader number of customers from the (bio-)photonic and life science communities with industrial development in mind. PIX4Life enables this by bridging technology research toward industrial development, i.e. by offering a library of mature (bio-)photonic building blocks and prototyping manufacturing solution using a cost sharing model, i.e. multi project wafers runs. By doing so, PIX4Life will open a multibillion market of life science products including biosensors, cytometers, DNA sequencers, gas sensors, microscopes, medical imagers and more. The project brings together 14 leading organisations from 7 European countries and is coordinated by IMEC, Belgium.  

Multi-Laser Engine PIC under test - a core element that can be applied in all fields of microscopy, e.g confocal, fluorescent microscopy, flow cytometry etc.

 
   

PIXAPP is the world’s first open-access photonic integrated circuit (PIC) assembly and packaging pilot-line, and helps users exploit the breakthrough advantages of PIC technologies.  PIXAPP consists of a highly-interdisciplinary team of Europe’s leading industrial & research organisations and provides users with single-point access to PIC assembly and packaging. PIXAPP and the other pilot-lines bridge the ‘valley of death’ often associated with moving from prototyping to low-volume fabrication, by giving companies an easy-access route to transferring R&D results to the market. PIXAPP bridges missing gaps in the value chain, from assembly & packaging, through to equipment optimisation, test and application demonstration. PIXAPP  brings together 18 leading European organisations and is coordinated by Tyndall National Institute, in Ireland. PIXAPP has developed a range of standardised ‘building blocks’, providing users with a clear menu of advanced packaging technologies which can be scaled to volume production.  This standardised approach, in combination with a centralised Gateway to manage incoming user requests, provides fast and easy access, especially to users working in emerging markets such as medical devices, diagnostics and sensing. PIXAPP also provides workforce training, including a unique hands-on training programme in key photonic packaging processes, including optical, electrical and mechanical packaging technologies.

PIXAPP offers users a wide range of standardised photonic packaging technologies which can be scaled to high volumes. These packaging technologies can be accessed through its centralised Gateway. The Gateway also manages user projects through to completion.

ACTPHAST is a key part of the European photonics-ecosystem and works closely with the 5 pilot-lines. ACTPHAST reaches out to SMEs and provides photonics and non-photonics companies and researchers with one-stop-shop access to a wide range of existing cutting-edge photonics technology platforms from Europe’s top research centres.  The ACTPHAST network offers a single streamlined way to access 200 of the best experts and technologies from 24 of Europe’s leading photonics research institutes, covering the entire supply chain to accelerate the demonstration of exciting new scientific breakthroughs towards a working prototype, and beyond into mass manufacturing. ACTPHAST is coordinated by Vrije Universiteit Brussel - Brussels Photonics Team.

Project: 
Indium-Phosphide Pilot Line for up-scaled, low-barrier, self-sustained, PIC ecosystem
Project coordinator: 
TU Eindhoven
Project Acronym: 
INPULSE
Contact: 
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