Silicon photonics gains double European foundry support

September 14, 2021 // By Peter Clarke
Silicon photonics gains double European foundry support
Specialty foundries X-Fab and Tower Semiconductor have both independently introduced silicon photonics manufacturing processes.

X-Fab Silicon Foundries has teamed up with Ligentec SA (Lausanne, Switzerland) to provide what it claims is Europe's largest capacity foundry service for integrated photonic circuits. Ligentec is a 2016 spin-off from EPFL Lausanne and provides silicon-nitride photonic solutions.

Ligentec has formed a partnership with X-Fab to scale up the production of its CMOS-compatible photonic circuits. Likely applications include sensors for self-driving cars, environmental monitoring and quantum computing.

"While there is growing worldwide demand for silicon nitride PICs [photonic integrated circuits], the missing piece is a commercial volume foundry that can keep pace with the expected uptake," said Michael Zervas, co-founder of Ligentec, in a statement from X-Fab.

"We have partnered with Ligentec because it has the highest performance and the most mature offering for passive PICs. This is complemented by a great customer orientation and strong development pipeline, rooted in the company’s long-term R&D relationship with EPFL in Lausanne," said Rudi De Winter, CEO of X-Fab, in the same statement.

Specialty foundry Tower Semiconductor Ltd. (Migdal Haemek, Israel) has formed a collaboration with Quintessent Inc. (Santa Barbara, Calif.) to create a silicon photonics process with integrated quantum dot lasers. A particular point of application for such circuits is in optical connectivity in data centers and in optical artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Next: SiPho process

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