Automated hybrid photonic integration for sensing and quantum technologies.

(Fraunhofer SME Project)

Duration: July 2021 – June 2024


Driven by the ever-growing needs of today's information society, monolithic PICs for data transmission have reached a high level of technological maturity. Based on this know-how, a trend towards hybrid integration has developed in recent years, which is particularly suitable for markets with lower volumes and higher prices. Hybrid integration enables the combination of photonic components from different material systems, thus combining the different strengths of the various material systems. In addition, hybrid integration enables the development of photonic chips with completely new functionalities. This results in new approaches to solutions, especially in strongly innovation-driven application fields such as sensor technology or quantum technology, which open up attractive new market opportunities for SMEs. A crucial hurdle for SMEs is that manufacturers of photonic components generally do not offer complete solutions for hybrid integrated chips, but only individual components that then have to be assembled into a hybrid chip by the customer. Another complicating factor is that the individual components often come from different manufacturers and are therefore not optimally matched to one another. Experience shows that this high familiarization and development effort often leads to a decline in interest in such hybrid integration solutions among SMEs. Fraunhofer HHI already offers R&D services on PICs in various material systems (InP, polymer, SiN) for industrial and academic customers. Building up know-how and developing new processes for hybrid integration will enable HHI to also offer hybrid integrated complete solutions with optimally matched individual components. The automation and standardization of hybrid integration techniques envisaged in this project, in particular through the integration of passive alignment elements, will significantly reduce the cost of new development and production of hybrid chips. This approach is complementary to the SME project "ProtoPIC", in which not design and production but a simple approach to characterization and evaluation of such and similar chips is realized. The two projects thus complement each other ideally and give SMEs access to low-cost hybrid chips from a single source and thus easy entry into the new application fields of hybrid integrated chips.