PHIX B.V. of Enschede, The Netherlands, is a Dutch packaging foundry that assembles their customers’ photonic integrated circuits into complete modules. As these modules evolve from initial prototypes into mature products, the manufacturing volumes become much larger and a higher level of automation is required. This aspect of photonic device manufacturing is often unjustifiably overlooked, although assembly and test are undeniably critical steps in product development and, ultimately, in their commercialization.
In order to further enhance their ability to scale up production to better match customer needs, PHIX has commissioned ficonTEC Service GmbH of Achim, Germany, to build flexible machine systems for a range of chip-to-chip assembly tasks. As the market-leading machine manufacturer specializing in equipment for assembly and testing of photonic devices, ficonTEC’s strong expertise in realizing advanced assembly automation via hardware capability and software control is highly complementary to PHIX’s extensive process knowledge.
The machine system recently delivered to PHIX currently performs automated integration of multiple photonic integrated circuits (PICs) for chiplet manufacturing. The chips are actively aligned through optical feedback loops or by actively powering up one of the chips during assembly. Two 6-axis stages simultaneously position a fiber array and optical chips (waveguides, PICs) to one another with sub-micron precision. Subsequently, the required elements are bonded using UV-activated adhesive, resulting in a post-bond accuracy of less than 250nm.
This partnership goes far beyond the delivery of a machine, as PHIX also offers process development and manufacturing services on ficonTEC equipment to ficonTEC customers. This process development, testing and scalable production can either take place at PHIX or at the customer’s own location. This provides photonics-enabled device manufacturers with unparalleled support, flexibility, scalability and peace of mind. Furthermore, this long-term character of the collaboration between ficonTEC and PHIX paves the way towards highly automated production facilities that can meet the output demanded by the rapidly growing photonics market, now and in the future.