Photonic Integration Chip (PIC) Optical Alignment and Interrogation

Academic Supervisor: 
Professor Marc Sorel

OPTOCAP is a technology oriented company active in the field of optoelectronics, microelectronics and MEMS packaging design and assembly services. Its turn-key packaging services enable its customers to reduce development and manufacturing costs, accelerate time to market and reduce risk with new product developments. OPTOCAP works in a wide variety of industrial sectors for which quality and reliability is a must along with an efficient supply chain.

As part of its ongoing technology roadmap Optocap has designed and currently supplies a first generation Photonic Integrated Chip (PIC) platform capable of providing a test bed for the functionality of a chip for both optical and electrical connections (DC and RF). As successful as this platform is the coupling efficiencies and long term objectives for an integrated hermetic and non-hermetic package solutions requires state of the art technologies and therefore understanding of sub-micron alignments and material knowledge along with assembly process developments to meet such a challenge.

The integration of functionality onto InP and Si wafers is increasing at accelerated rates so providing a cost effective and fast turn solution is essential to the success of this design. The use of PICs in various markets including telecommunications and aerospace is significantly growing so knowledge of these markets will require investigating as part of the development of a suitable solution.

We currently work with various institutions and industrial partners on very different and challenging EU and Innovate UK funded projects where optical alignment is critical. Outwith these projects, understanding or gaining knowledge on the background of this technology is essential to developing the right solution.

The research has to cover several aspects including:

Photonic integration - to provide a coupling solution that will give Optocap a production solution with coupling losses of <1dB.

We already have several potential solutions but none of them are going to give us 1) the coupling losses requirements or 2) a broad wavelength range (1300 -1560nm) and 3) the lower wavelength range around 850nm. This will require extensive research and understanding of current solutions and then proposing a unique solution capable of being IP protected. This is not limited to the product but also to the alignment process.

Process development - to provide a unique assembly process. This will require gaining knowledge of processing factors and material choices to develop a <1um repeatable process placement.

Passive alignment - to provide a solution capable of ensuring that alignments can be transferred to provide a passive alignment solution.

Understanding material science, process effects and alignment requirements are all difficult topics let alone finding a production solution.

The candidate will need to be able to understand and expand on tolerance analysis by using Solidworks, Zemax and potentially be able to write algorithms in a software language to gain the necessary results and predictability of their solution so that yields are in excess of >90%. The candidate will need to know or learn how to use 6-axis optics alignment equipment, power meters, light sources, polarisation controllers etc and they may need to learn the manual wire and die bonders to produce evaluation parts.

Product - the final step is to provide an integrated cost effective solution suitable for high reliability, telecommunications  and space applications.  Ideally the solution will not contain epoxies and use laser weld techniques to provide the alignment requirements. This will be an extension of our current capabilities.

Knowledge of optical and mechanical modeling would be a significant advantage.

Product development and the use of an NPI process training will be provided by Optocap