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28 March 2017

Tyndall to lead €15.5m EU-funded consortium PIXAPP

The photonics market is expected to grow to more than €615bn by 2020. With Europe’s share of the production technology market currently at 55%, the European Union - in partnership with Europe’s photonics industry body Photonics21 - has identified photonics as a Key Enabling Technology (KET), critical for the future economic development of Europe. To provide Europe with a state-of-the-art infrastructure that supports the industrial development and manufacture of photonic integrated circuits (PICs), the EU is therefore investing €15.5m in the new international consortium PIXAPP, which will be led by Ireland’s Tyndall National Institute (based at University College Cork).

Spanning high-speed fiber-optic communications, medical diagnostic sensors, the control of self-driving cars and emerging mass markets in the Internet of Things (IoT), the need for photonics (to generate, control and detect light) is driven by the fact that the speed and usage of day-to-day technology is almost at capacity, whereas photonics can address mass market requirements in communications, healthcare and security.

“The consortium involved in PIXAPP, led by Tyndall, has an unmatched record of excellence in delivering many world ‘firsts’ in PICs,” said professor Peter O’Brien, PIXAPP pilot line director & head of Photonics Packaging Research at Tyndall National Institute, speaking at the Photonics21 annual general meeting (AGM) in Brussels. “We will establish ‘best in class’ PIC packaging technologies that are cost-effective and scalable to high-volume manufacture,” he adds. “We will offer these technologies through a single easy access point, which we call the Pilot Line Gateway, which is located at Tyndall. Furthermore we plan to train and educate the photonics workforce of the future by creating a unique laboratory-based training program. This program is a game-changer not only for the European photonics industry but also global photonics.”

Packaging PICs can represent up to 80% of the cost of photonics components, so it is a critical area for the industry. PIXAPP is claimed to be the world’s first open-access PIC assembly and packaging pilot line, combining a highly interdisciplinary team of Europe’s leading industrial and research organizations. Partners in the UK, Germany, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Finland, Italy and Czech Republic each bring their own particular expertise to provide small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a unique infrastructure to help them exploit the advantages of PIC technologies.

“In the past, it has been very expensive to manufacture high volumes of PICs, and more expensive and challenging again to package them,” says Jose Pozo, director of the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC). “This is creating a bottleneck for production, which is impacting the potential for growth in the photonics industry,” he adds. “I am confident that Tyndall National Institute’s leadership will deliver market success for Europe and drive our competitiveness across the communications, medical, automotive, energy, safety and defence sectors globally.”

Tags: Tyndall PIC

Visit: www.pixapp.eu

Visit: www.tyndall.ie

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