Let’s talk about the greatest paradox of the 21th century, at least as far as we’re concerned: The revolutionary potential of integrated photonics technology versus its time consuming and costly R&D-fase that’s holding the revolution back. Also, more importantly, let’s zoom in on the breakthrough that will leave this paradox in the past and catapult integrated photonics into the future. A breakthrough that enables a tenfold acceleration of the assembly process and thus saves up to 80% of the costs. Enabling price points that will drive the volume and provide more time and financial resources for continued development of the eagerly aimed new chip without transmitter. So join us in our mission to take down barriers and make integrated photonics technology accessible for a wider audience.
Anyone who’s anyone in the field of fiber optics knows ‘what all the fuss is about’. Integrated photonics technology transports data faster, over longer distances, while consuming less energy. Therefore it offers an essential solution for the worldwide energy transition and our growing need for technology bandwidth. Provided that it can be used on a large scale, which brings us to the million-dollar question: what does the field need now to make the next giant leap? The answer, according to Effect Photonics, one of the leading players in that field, is ‘economy of scale’. Effect Photonics President Dr. Boudewijn Docter explains: “The whole production process, assembly and packaging of photonic chips requires a precise, constant and expensive infrastructure. So to avoid an exorbitant product price, we need volume. To create volume, we need production automation and technology: An assembly process that guarantees reproducibility, accuracy, predictability and compatibility.”
Sounds like a clear message, though Boudewijn emphasizes not just any machine developed by just any company will do. “It’s important to work together with parties that understand the assembly process and the product. Not only in the way it works, but also in the way it has to be tested. We need parties that know what bottlenecks to look for and which aspects are most valuable. In short: a company that has proven knowledge and competence and that speaks the same language as other players in the field of integrated photonics technology.” Well, that’s exactly why we’ve teamed up with Effect Photonics in conducting a plan of action, successfully supported by the Metropool Regio Eindhoven, to engineer the best possible solution for a progressive industry. As a multidisciplinary system integrator that is passionate about driving assembly costs down in integrated photonics, we have operated at the edge of the industry ever since ‘photonics’ became a thing. We firmly believe that integrated photonics technology will be a key component of any device, machine, or product that is now even slightly electronic. That’s why we want to play our part in paving the way for this technology. Not just on behalf of, but particularly together with other players on the photonics stage. We already share the same purpose, drive and love for technology and society, why not share our knowledge and resources as well?
To start with what we bring to the table: A breakthrough in photonics assembly speed and costs. To achieve that, we looked at the case from a different perspective and in close cooperation with Physik Instrumente (PI). We put in our knowledge of automation, the positioning of devices at high accuracy, and permanent fixation of aligned optical elements to achieve optimum optical throughput. PI added their expertise and technology for active alignment hardware and software routines that can achieve high accuracy and ultra-fast alignment. Together, we tried to innovate the business model from the heart of the issue: improving and optimizing the needed machinery itself. And we did it by thinking out-of-the-box. Turning the current processes inside out, to see where we could add value. We managed to tackle the most costly parts of the process: The assembling, packaging, and testing of integrated photonics. After a lot of researching, building, testing, and more, we forced that breakthrough we were so eager for. Indigo came into existence. Our own modular photonic assembly platform, based on our universal modular machine platform. Cost efficient ánd ultra-fast. The missing link that will push for world dominance of integrated photonics.
The impressive cycle time of Indigo, which is up to ten times faster than other machines, is formed by the unique combination of PI’s active alignment hardware, hexapods and software routines, together with our know-how and expertise in machine architecture for processes within the micron range. This combination enables high accuracy on a micro-scale and ultrafast alignment of two small optical elements during the packaging process. Where it takes similar machines almost five up to twenty minutes to complete this process, Indigo can deliver a packaged product, including active alignment and fiber termination, in less than 30 seconds. The cost effectiveness is made up by the reduced cost of ownership, the lower investment costs, and the modular growth footprint. The modular design of Indigo enables manufacturers to start small and scale up when their company is growing. Furthermore, it is easy to swap or add additional process modules, and you can even integrate Indigo in an existing production line. Also, the size of the machine is a real bonus. It takes up to fifty percent less expensive floor space in cleanrooms than other machines.
Above all, Indigo throws the doors wide open for producers of integrated photonic chips. Not only because it optimizes the current assembly process, but also because that advantage makes way for a spectacular boost in developing the much anticipated next chip. By outsourcing their assembling, companies can put their mind(s) and money to the next boost in integrated photonics technology. Team up with us to break boundaries and make the world more fibrant.
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Visit: Indigo: a breakthrough in photonics assembly and costs