EU projects – Technology Scouting – Business Innovation

H2020 Insights: Advances in Photonic Integrated Circuits

Photonic integrated circuits (PICs) go by many synonyms including integrated photonics, silicon photonics, photonic ICs and so on. These devices use light to perform optical functions by incorporating numerous optical devices. In PICs, information signals are imposed on optical wavelengths typically in the visible spectrum or near infrared region. Various devices found on a PIC may include optical amplifiers, optical lasers, receivers, waveguides, detectors, gratings, multiplexers, de-multiplexers, and attenuators among others.

With the growth of photonics, over 40 projects specific to either integrated photonics, silicon photonics, photonic ICs or photonic integrated circuits have been funded within the Horizon 2020 (H2020) programme. The most involved private companies in this technological area are IBM Research GMBH (Switzerland), XIO Photonics BV (Netherlands), Lionix International BV (Netherlands) Berenschot Groep BV (Netherlands), Ericsson Telecomunicazioni (Italy), and ams AG (Austria). Other key players involved in PICs projects are IMEC (Belgium), Fraunhoffer (Germany), III-V LAB  (France) VTT (Finland), CEA (France), University College Cork (Ireland), Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands), University of Ghent (Belgium), Institute of Communication and Computer Systems (Greece) and European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC).

Efforts to provide mature technology are found within projects funded by Innovation Action and Research and Innovation Action funding schemes. Some of these efforts and technologies include:

  • Provision of a one-stop-shop to the European SMEs to enable them to move their PIC based R&D technologies from the laboratories to the market by bridging missing gaps in the value chain, from assembly & packaging, through to equipment optimization, test and application demonstration (PIXAPP project, funding 15 million euros).
  • Exploiting the powerful PIC technology to fabricate 5G broadband wireless networks for dense, ultra-dense and Hot-Spot area use (5G-PHOS Project).
  • Development of photonic needles for spectral tissue sensing as diagnostic tools for screening tumours (InSPECT project).
  • Leveraging advances in complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) to develop a novel CMOS compatible low-loss silicon nitride waveguide based PIC technology to be used in in the field of optical coherence tomography (OCT) for ophthalmology (OCTCHIP project).
  • development of new wafer-scale technology for direct and intimate attachment of III-V Indium-Phosphide (InP) photonic integrated circuits (PICs) and BiCMOS electronic chips (ICs) to be used in data transmission (WIPE project).
  • Integrating microwave engineering and photonics by developing a disruptive photonic integration platform that will enable the development of very large scale photonic integrated circuits (VLSPICs) with cascaded stages of tunable structures for analog and digital signal processing that allow functionalities in microwave systems that are complex or totally impossible in the microwave domain (HAMLET project).
  • Creating a universal memory by combining opto-magnetism and spintronics with electronic and photonic integration technologies. This novel technology will be in the form of a spintronic-photonic memory chip demonstrator with 3 orders of magnitude higher write speed and 2 orders of magnitude lower energy consumption (SPICE project).
  • Development of a scalable thermally-enabled 3D integrated optoelectronic platform that can meet the explosion in data traffic growth within ICT. This would be achieved by heterogeneously integrating micro-thermoelectric coolers (μTEC) and micro-fluidics (μFluidics) with optoelectronic devices within the Thermally Integrated Smart Photonics Systems (TIPS project).
  • In order to address the risks if cardiovascular diseases by rapid and early detection, the CARDIS project seeks to demonstrate the concept of a mobile and low-cost device based on a silicon photonics integrated laser Doppler vibrometer and validate the concept for the screening of arterial stiffness, detection of stenosis and heart failure.
  • The TOP HIT project is aggressively developing the micro-Transfer-Printing technique by integrating electronics and silicon photonics components for the magnetic and communication industries.
  • In ROAM project, the orbital angular momentum (OAM) modes of light for communications and networking are being investigated for increasing optical fibre transmission capacity. These OAM components are essentially built on silicon photonics technology
  • The DIMENSION project is establishing an integrated electro-optical platform that extends the silicon (Bi)CMOS and silicon photonics platform with III-V photonic functionality. This offers great opportunities for new innovative devices and functions at the chip-level.
  • The Teraboard project is building a full intra data center photonic platform for intraboard,intrarack and intra data center optical communications. This platform will be based on ultra-high density and scalable bandwidth optical interconnectivity with low data losses, low energy cost and reduced manufacturing costs.
  • The L3MATRIX project provides novel technological innovations in the fields of silicon photonics (SiP) and 3D device integration to cater for higher bandwidth needs in data centers.
  • The PIX4life project, with a funding of 10 million euros, is putting in place a state of the art silicon nitride (SiN) photonics pilot line for life science applications in the visible range which will be accessible as an incentive for product development by a broad range of industrial customers.
  • By implementing quantum simulation on integrated photonic processors, the QUCHIP project will develop new photonic technologies. ranging from on-chip sources of single photons to complex waveguide architectures and on-chip detectors
  • In order to bring photonic reservoir computing to maturation, the PHRESCO project will design a novel reservoir computing chip expected to be a major breakthrough in the field

The following is the funding distribution across the projects in the photonics integrated circuits field.

Companies in the photonics industry which are interested in H2020 funding should watch out for these open and forthcoming calls:

  1. ICT-03-2018-2019: Photonics Manufacturing Pilot Lines for Photonic Components and Devices
  2. ICT-04-2018: Photonics based manufacturing, access to photonics, datacom photonics and connected lighting
  3. ICT-05-2019: Application driven Photonics components
  4. DT-ICT-04-2020: Photonics Innovation Hubs

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