Today Chip Integration Technology Center (CITC), Tegema, PI (Physik Instrumente) and PHIX released their new Photonics Assembly Consortium called PODIUM, funded by PhotonDelta and CITC. The name PODIUM refers to PIC Open Development Infrastructure for Universal Markets.

The consortium runs a program in which optical termination technology, assembly and packaging is developed for a wide range of integrated photonic applications. As a Key Enabling Technology, photonics is the driver in many relevant innovations, for example data communication – saving lots of energy – and medical technology – saving lives.

CITC utilizes the modular machine platform that Tegema has developed which allows integration of a wide range of motion, process and handling modules. The platform uses state of the art motion hardware and firmware of PI, which enables ultra-high motion precision and active optical alignment routines. Barry Peet, General Manager of CITC, about the added value of the consortium: “PODIUM will help customers to optimize their packaging solution before bringing it to volume production, either by transferring the outcome to PHIX, offering optical assembly services, or back to the customer for in-house production using the Tegema platform. The role of CITC, as joint innovation center, is ideal to combine the expertise and capabilities of the 3 partners involved to create maximum added value for the end-customer.”

PhotonDelta, as a growth accelerator for the Dutch integrated photonics industry, supports and funds this consortium. The funding is made possible by the Province of Gelderland and Brainport Development, as stakeholders of PhotonDelta. Ewit Roos, CEO of PhotonDelta adds “The development of production equipment that is tuned to the needs of integrated photonics manufacturers is essential to enhance the growth of the Dutch photonics industry. It will enable players to efficiently and reliably produce the devices and systems that the market is asking for. Right now, packaging costs of photonic integrated chips are relatively high compared to the total costs of the module. At PhotonDelta, we strive for the mass-adoption of this technology, for which we need to bring these costs down and make the technology more accessible. We believe that the initiative from CITC, Tegema, PI and PHIX will get us closer to that goal.”

Photonics is the driver in many relevant innovations and a breakthrough is hampered by high assembly costs: up to 80% of the total device costs are in electrical and optical packaging. Especially the optical packaging requires a tedious and time-consuming active alignment of all optical components. “Active” in this context means that the device has to be switched on while the performance is optimized during alignment. CITC combines electrical and optical package know-how to create a compelling innovation in the field of photonics packaging to support, develop and evaluate equipment, processes, standardization and new technologies.