Collaboration creates foundry capacity for integrated photonic circuits

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LIGENTEC, a supplier of high-performance, low-loss, silicon nitride photonic solutions, and specialty semiconductor producer X-FAB Silicon Foundries have announced a strategic partnership resulting in the large-scale supply of integrated photonic devices.

Photonic integrated circuits (PICs) work with light instead of electrons, and are expected to play a key role in the infrastructure supporting communications, biosensing and transportation.

“Silicon nitride offers superior performance to manage the light in the chip circuitry, with unprecedented low propagation losses and high-power handling,” explained Michael Zervas, co-founder of LIGENTEC. “While there is growing worldwide demand for silicon nitride PICs, the missing piece is a commercial volume foundry that can keep pace with the expected uptake.”

LIGENTEC has implemented its proprietary, patented, low-loss silicon nitride process technology within X-FAB’s existing high-throughput foundry workflow which means that its PICs are now commercially available in high volumes out of Europe, a key requisite that will help to secure an independent supply at the quantities that are expected in relation to sensors for self-driving cars, environment monitoring, quantum computers and an array of other applications.

“This partnership allows us to offer the benefits of our technology to high volume customers,” said LIGENTEC’s Director Thomas Hessler. “X-FAB’s advanced equipment and superior process control will enable us to serve the mass market with elevated performance PICs. Its multiple sites and capacity to deal with 100,000 new 200 mm wafer starts per month gives exceptional supply assurance and almost limitless scope for scaling. The proven track record X-FAB has in the automotive and medical sectors will open up new opportunities for LIGENTEC.”

“The integrated photonics market has huge potential. We have partnered with LIGENTEC because it has the highest performance and the most mature offering for passive PICs. This is complemented by a great customer orientation and strong development pipeline, rooted in the company’s long-term R&D relationship with EPFL in Lausanne. We are highly committed to exploring the future possibilities of PICs through our partnership with LIGENTEC, acting as a pillar of strong growth for X-FAB’s specialty foundry business,” added Rudi De Winter, CEO of X-FAB.

Thanks to this strategic partnership with X-FAB, LIGENTEC is now taking volume production requests for low-loss silicon nitride PICs, based on 200mm wafers.