(Fraunhofer SME-Project):

Automated hybrid photonic integration for sensing and quantum technologies

Duration: July 2021 – June 2024


Driven by the steadily growing needs of today's information society, monolithic PICs for data transmission have developed to a high level of technological maturity. Based on this know-how, a trend towards hybrid integration developed within the last years, usable especially for lower volume and higher price markets. Hybrid integration allows the combination of photonic components from different material systems, thus combining the different strengths of several material systems. In addition, hybrid integration allows 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 or quantum technology, opening up attractive new market opportunities for SMEs. A decisive hurdle for SMEs is that manufacturers of photonic components generally do not offer complete solutions for hybrid integrated chips, but only individual components, which must then be assembled into a hybrid chip by the customer. This is often made even more difficult by the fact that the individual components come from different manufacturers and are therefore not optimally matched to one another. Experience has shown that this high familiarization and development effort often leads to a loss of interest in such hybrid integration solutions among SMEs. Fraunhofer HHI already offers R&D services on PICs in different material systems (InP, polymer, SiN) for industrial and academic customers. Building expertise 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 fabrication but a simple approach to characterization & evaluation of such and similar chips is realized. Both projects thus complement each other ideally and provide SMEs with access to cost-effective hybrid chips from a single source for easy entry into the new application fields of hybrid integrated chips.