26 February 2018
PIX4life announces SiN PICs for bio- and life-science applications in visible range
© Semiconductor Today Magazine / Juno PublishiPicture: Disco’s DAL7440 KABRA laser saw.
PIX4life – a European pilot line within the European Horizon 2020 initiative that offers photonic integrated circuits for biophotonics and life-sciences applications – says that, after two years of internal development, it is now offering its services to a limited set of external users on an open-access basis.
“While bulk optics and visible light sources have been commonly used in biology and life-sciences, many of the applications were restricted to laboratories employing large and expensive equipment,” says Iñigo Artundo, CEO of photonic integrated circuit (PIC) design house VLC Photonics of Valencia, Spain. “The developments of the last decade in the field of photonic integration, stimulated by new advances in silicon nitride (SiN) fabrication capabilities, have lead to a mature technology able to provide solutions for miniaturization, scalability and cost reduction,” he adds. “These advances in light manipulation will support new applications for medical instrumentation, multi-wavelength sources, flow cytometry and photonic sensors. This is possible thanks to the reduction in cost and size of the required equipment from centimeter-scale optical systems to millimeter-scale photonic chips,” he adds.
The PIX4life pilot line gathers the complete value chain required for a concept to become a reality, from design, to manufacturing, characterization and packaging of photonic integrated circuits. Since PIX4life focuses on PIC technology in the visible and short near-infrared, the technology is suited to addressing the needs of applications such as bio- and life-sciences.
Since late 2017, interested users have been able to apply for open-access to the pilot line services. The ‘early access‘ of these users to the service offerings is subject to an internal selection procedure, to promote the realization of promising life science concepts into prototypes.
PIX4life offers open access to several multi-project wafer runs (MPWs), where fabrications costs and wafer space are shared among participating users. These MPWs are organized for different technology platforms at two different silicon nitride PICs foundries. “End users can request technical support to choose the right implementation of their optical system into a photonic chip,” says VLC Photonics’ R&D manager Marco García. Once selected, users will be able to submit a design, which will be assigned to a certain area on the wafer, and each design will be replicated several times.
“PIX4life opens us the door to target new medical applications, allowing us to accomplish our mission: improving human living through high-quality innovative products,” says Sara Mas Gómez, R&D engineer at medical instrumentation company MedLumics of Madrid, Spain (a partner in PIX4life).