Silicon photonics platforms reach maturity in PLAT4M project

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Three silicon photonics platforms have been built by CEA-Leti, Imec and STMicroelectronics as part of the €10.2 million European FP7 project PLAT4M.

The four-year project, which launched in 2013, aims to build a European-based supply chain in silicon photonics and speed industrialisation of the technology. PLAT4M includes 15 leading European R&D institutes and CMOS companies, key industrial and research organisations in design and packaging, as well as end users in different application fields, to build the complete supply chain.

Midway through the project, the consortium has developed advanced technologies and tools by building a coherent design flow, demonstrating manufacturability of elementary devices and process integration, and developing a packaging toolkit.

Imec’s silicon photonics platform, based on 200mm substrates, has matured thanks to the PLAT4M project. The platform is based on silicon on insulator (SOI) substrates with 220nm crystalline silicon on a 2,000nm buried oxide. During this project the existing fabrication processes and integration flow have been fine tuned to have stable and repeatable performance for all photonics building blocks (couplers, waveguides, phase shifters, photodetectors).

PLAT4M partners Thales, Polytec and TNO are already using the technology. Thales demonstrated a coherent combination of 16 laser beams at 1.55µm. Ultimately, this application aims at producing high-power, high-energy laser sources for sensing, industry or fundamental physics.

Leti has developed a new photonic platform based on 200mm SOI wafers. This process offers multilevel silicon patterning that allows the design of various passive and active devices (modulator and photodiode, for example) with thermal tuning capability. Two AlCu levels are available for routing. A process design kit (PDK) is available for circuit design and an MPW service will be proposed in 2016.

STMicroelectronics has developed an additional silicon-photonic platform in 300mm technology to be used as an R&D tool for proof-of-concept purposes. The technology, called DAPHNE (Datacom Advanced Photonic Nanoscale Environment), is designed for evaluating new devices and subsystems for demonstration.

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