Packaging and assembly of photonic – electronic hybrids

To connect photonic chips to other devices, nanometer accurate alignment is required between the waveguides on the chip and optical fibers. This project focusses on the design and realization of a machine for a new alignment concept for this application.

PhD Candidate: ir. Matthijs van Gastel
Supervisor: dr. ir. P.C.J.N. Rosielle
Promotor: prof. dr. ir. M. Steinbuch
Project Financing: STW Horizon
Project Period: January 2016 – January 2020

Photonics is the field of research of generating, controlling, and detecting photons, particles of light. In photonic integrated circuits, elementary optical components are used to create optical circuits. The use of light instead of electronic signals in these circuits enables an increased bandwidth over traditional electrical chips which results in smaller faster and cheaper devices.  

To couple photonic chips to other devices multiple optical fibers are used. A nanometer accurate alignment is required between the waveguides on the chips and the cores of the optical fibers to achieve the best performance. Current alignment methods such as V-grooves arrays uses mechanical features to align the optical fibers mutually. Due to the production tolerances of optical fibers, these methods cannot achieve the required alignment accuracy. In addition the current assembly costs of photonic devices is over 50% of the total systems costs. A new assembly processes should improve the alignment accuracy and reduce the assembly costs dramatically.

This project focusses on a new alignment method where first fiber arrays are manufactured with perfect mutual alignment between the cores of the optical fibers. These arrays are later aligned to the chips. To perform this new alignment method in a reproducible, automatic way, a machine is designed and realized in this project.