Imec and CST Global, a UK-based manufacturer of III-V compound semiconductors for photonics, successfully integrated an InP laser into Imec’s silicon photonics platform. This will help improve the cost-effectiveness of silicon photonics, as the light source typically comes packaged separately.
Since the semiconductor industry has worked with silicon for decades, it makes a lot of sense to make all that expertise work for photonics, too. Using CMOS process technology enables manufacturing at scale and with high yields, both of which bring down costs. But as silicon doesn’t emit light efficiently, a ‘built-in’ light source has never been an option. Apart from raising cost, external light sources suffer from light coupling losses and increased form factors.
Imec and CST started working together in 2019, initially focusing on passive laser assemblies and then moving on to full integration using die-to-die bonding processes. Throughout 2020, the partners will focus on optimizing their process and the performance of the devices. They expect the technology to become available as part of Imec’s silicon photonics prototyping service in the first half of 2021.