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6 April 2015

JePPIX's 2015 roadmap forecasts a €1bn integrated photonics market in 2020

In its recently updated roadmap document (first published in 2011, and last updated in 2013), the Joint European Platform for Photonic Integration of Components and Circuits (JePPIX) predicts a €1bn market size for PIC-enabled products in 2020.

JePPIX brings the European InP community together as a coherent force dedicated to building a generic foundry technology infrastructure, which requires coordination of the work of many independent businesses spread across process development, chip fabrication, packaging, software development, design and training.

The generic foundry approach is initiating a rev­olution in micro- and nanophotonics, just as it did in microelectronics more than 30 years ago, says JePPIX. Generic integration causes a dramatic reduction in entry costs when applying photonic integrated circuits (PICs) in novel or improved products and brings them within reach for many small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and larger companies.

Up to now, most applications have been in telecoms and datacoms, but they are now becoming much broader. Examples are fiber sensor readout units, gas sensors, medical diagnostics, metrology, terahertz (THz) and antenna systems.

The business case for many firms targeting PICs in novel or improved products is a strong one, reckons JePPIX, which also sees a rapidly growing market for PIC designers. For foundries manufacturing generic PICs there will be an increasingly attractive business case as the market volume grows, it reckons. However, in the start-up phase (which may last a few years) foundry operation will be combined with other chip-based products and services.

In the coming years JePPIX foresees a further increase in the performance and maturity of its four foundry platforms (provided by Oclaro, Fraunhofer HHI, SMART Photonics and LioniX) to a level where the technology is extremely competitive with application-specific processes. The development of process capabilities and performance will be accompanied by the development of fab-calibrated process design kits (PDKs), which will provide users with models and tools for accurate and efficient PIC design. Standardized packages are also being developed within the JePPIX community. Access to a high-performance package available at a reasonable cost is equally important for rapid prototyping and product de­velopment, says JePPIX.

Through application of the generic foundry model, the entry costs for developing a PIC prototype are dramatically reduced, to a level that is affordable for many SMEs and universities, reckons JePPIX. It is shown that for developing prototypes, and also for low- to medium-volume manufacturing, indium phosphide (InP) PICs may be more cost effective than silicon photonics PICs, contrary to the widespread belief that InP technology is inherently much more expensive.

The first generic PIC-based products should become commercially available this year. Based on the rapid development of industry participation in multi-wafer project (MPW) runs, JePPIX expects that the PIC-enabled market will develop into a billion euro market by 2020.

The anticipated growth of the market will demand a rapidly increasing number of PIC designs and hence designers. A more than tenfold increase in the existing design capacity will be required within the next few years, forecast JePPIX. Training and educational activities must therefore have high priority.

Very significant investments in photonic foundries have recently been announced in the USA. For Europe to retain its competitive edge, continued public and private investment is important, believes JePPIX. Funding should therefore focus on raising awareness of the opportunities that PICs offer for novel or improved products for a wide range of applications, increasing training and education capacity, and creating the appropriate conditions for enabling PIC foundries to provide the required manufacturing services, it adds.

JePPIX says that it is playing a central role in the eco-system for foundry-based PIC development and manufacturing. Because of the large overlap in skills and tools for designing InP and LioniX's dielectric Si3N4/SiO2 (TriPleX) chips - and the increasing synergy between the two technologies in packaging and hybrid platform technology - JePPIX is taking on the role of broker for both InP and TriPleX technology.

See related items:

VLC Photonics introduces multi-project wafer standard design services

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