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Project ESSenTIAL brings silicon photonics to commercial use

ESSenTIAL, a new EU FP7 project, was recently launched with the goal to allow a better industrial access to silicon photonics technology. This will be realized by expanding the services of the ePIXfab-service, taking care to build a more complete technology chain from idea to product.

Since 2006, Europe has invested in facilitating industrial access to silicon photonics. A most notable initiative is ePIXfab, a collaboration between imec and CEA-LETI. ePIXfab has provided setup training, design kits, and access to multiproject wafer runs.

Still, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face steep hurdles if they want access to this advanced technology for their innovative products. This has mostly to do with the lack of a complete idea-to-product chain. Now, a new FP7 support action, called ESSenTIAL will expand the services of ePIXfab.

With the start of ESSenTIAL, IHP joint the ePIXfab umbrella to set up and provide first class silicon photonics foundry services to academia and industry. Apart from IHP, the project consortium comprises imec (Belgium) and CEA-LETI (France) providing foundry access, VTT (Finland) and Tyndall Institute (Ireland) for packaging and assembly, TNO (Netherlands) and CMC Microsystems (Canada) to extend commercial reach.

The project will expand the services that ePIXfab currently offers:

• First evaluation (feasibility) studies will be supported.
• A new cost-sharing fiber attachment and integration service will be set up, so that R&D engineers have more facilities to test their chips.
• The technology accessible with the ePIXfab multiproject wafers will include standardized modulators, thermo-optics and Ge photodiodes.
• There will be agreements with several fabs on wafer test and process benchmarking.

• ePIXfab will organize training for these new activities.

The project runs from October 2011 to September 2014 and has a budget of 1.65 million euro.

Dr. Lars Zimmermann
Research group leader Si Photonics
IHP - Innovations for High Performance Microelectronics/Leibniz-Institut für innovative Mikroelektronik
Im Technologiepark 25
15236 Frankfurt (Oder)
Tel: +49 335 5625 407

Heidrun Förster | idw
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