Pilot line project InPulse to boost PIC innovation in Europe

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InPulse, a four-year project offering new-entrant companies access to state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities for indium phosphide-based photonic integrated circuits (PICs), was launched officially on 23 January. By streamlining the development cycle for PIC startups, the project is expected to lead to the development of new technology for a wide range of new markets. 

Inpulse is has been funded with 14 million from the European Commission and involves 16 European partners. 

The project builds on another European initiative, the Joint European Platform for Photonic Integration of Components and Circuits (JePPIX), which offers PIC prototyping services. InPulse enables the transition to manufacturing.

Currently, there are only a handful of companies that can develop PIC-enabled products. They do this with their own in-house fabs (production lines), which means that start-ups with promising ideas have trouble entering the market. The InPulse manufacturing pilot line allows new entrants to take their concepts from prototype to pilot production on industry tools and processes. InPulse connects the design process with manufacturing, testing and packaging to streamline the development cycle for businesses who do not own a fabrication plant or have production knowledge.

The project partners of InPulse will create manufacturing-grade process design kits that will be the automated intermediary between the design, production and testing. The separation of design and fabrication process know-how means newcomers can the prohibitive investment overheads in PIC fabrication technology.

InPulse will use methods that can be scaled in volume and that focus on accelerating the design cycle, creating more accurate and predictable design tools, manufacturing and high-throughput testing. 

The first phase of Inpulse will focus on making the partners' technology more robust and on putting in place the business processes for accelerated development programs. In the second stage of the project, around thirty new products will be developed to demonstrate the pilot line capability. For this phase, the project consortium is looking for additional companies and designers that want to take their ideas and designs to pre-production.

The project partners of InPulse are the Eindhoven University of Technology, AMIRES, Aarhus University, Bright Photonics, European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC), ficonTEC Service, Fraunhofer HHI, III-V Lab, Mellanox Technologies, Photon Design, Synopsys, Smart Photonics, Technobis Fibre Technologies, Tyndall National Institute, VLC Photonics and VPIphotonics.

The project is supported by the European Commission, the Photonics21 Public Private Partnership (PPP), and the PhotonDelta integrated photonics eco-system. 

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