Paul van Gerven
30 September

Dutch photonics packaging foundry Phix and German equipment manufacturer Ficontec have entered into a partnership for chip-to-chip assembly of photonics modules. Ficontec is supplying Phix with automated assembly tools, while Phix is offering process development and contract manufacturing to Ficontec’s customers. According to the companies, the deal will allow for “a seamless scale-up to high-volumes” of multi-chip photonic module manufacturing.

Many photonic products contain more than one photonics integrated circuit (PIC), which need to be assembled into modules. This is a delicate procedure, among other things involving precisely aligning the PICs (chips) and connecting fiber optics. As these modules evolve from prototype into mature products and manufacturing volumes increase, a higher level of automation is required.

Credit: Phix/Gijs van Ouwerkerk

Phix commissioned Ficontec to build flexible tools for a range of such chip-to-chip assembly tasks. The foundry recently took delivery of a machine that actively aligns chips through optical feedback loops or by actively powering up one of the chips during assembly. Two 6-axis stages simultaneously align the fiber array and the chips with sub-micron precision. Subsequently, the chips are bonded using UV-activated adhesive, resulting in a post-bond accuracy of less than 250 nanometers.

To help photonics-enabled device manufacturers go through their development process as smoothly as possible, Phix has started offering process development and manufacturing services on Ficontec equipment, either at Phix or Ficontec’s customers’ sites. By offering flexibility and scalability, the two companies believe their collaboration will pave the way towards highly automated photonics production.