PIXAPP – Photonic Integrated Circuits Assembly & Packaging Pilot Line

The Photonics Public Private Partnership launched in January 2016 two Pilot lines involved in the development of Photonics Integrated Circuits (PICs) (1) PIX4LIFE, devoted to life-science application using SiN technology and (2) MIRPHAB, dedicated to the development of mid-infrared sensors for detection of chemicals. Within these initiatives, the packaging and assembly of PICs are considerable challenges which require a diverse range of advanced capabilities. www.pixapp.eu

To bridge this gap, the world’s first open access PIC assembly and packaging Pilot manufacturing line, PIXAPP (Photonic Integrated Circuits Assembly & Packaging Pilot Line) has been launched in January 2017. PIXAPP is a one-stop-shop for SMEs in Europe, with the main objective to cover missing links in the technology chain stablished in the context of Photonics Pilot production. PIXAPP will offer an early roll-out of Pilot line services in 2019; interested companies are encouraged to connect now with PIXAPP to maximize the success in the packaging and assembly of their PICs devices.

Knowledge and facilities to overcome assembly and packaging PICs challenges are dispersed across Europe, distributed between leading research institutes and specialised companies. The aim of PIXAPP is to combine Europe’s technology packaging leaders into a unified Open Access Pilot Line to give European industry easy access to a wide range of assembly options. For that, PIXAPP will stablish standards and test protocols moving packaging technology to Technology Readiness Level 7 (TRL) enabling Pilot manufacturing. Other key objective of PIXAPP is the validation of the established PIC assembly and packaging technologies using demonstrators selected from areas addressing emerging socio-economic challenges. All demonstrators progress state-of-the-art significantly, principally by using PIXAPP’s standardised PIC assembly and packaging technologies operating at TRL7 and the latest photonic and electronic devices to develop novel manufacturing processes enabling higher performance, lower cost packages and new product designs. Finally, PIXAPP will offer training and dissemination programmes to increase its visibility.

PIXAPP capabilities will meet the requirements of all the main PIC platforms: Si, InP and Si3N4, covering from design to materials sourcing, advanced assembly and packaging, through to test, reliability analysis and equipment optimisation. With partners distributed across the full value chain (design, PIC fabrication, packaging, test, equipment), PIXAPP will have the potential to target a wide range of application domains addressing major societal challenges for Europe, including three core markets that are of great importance to Europe; Communications, Healthcare, and Security.

The largest application market for PICs is Optical Communication applications including long haul, access and short-reach Datacom networks, accounting for over half (58%) of PIC market revenue. To demonstrate PIXAPP technology in the Communication area, a Telecom and a Datacom Transceiver demonstrators will be developed. In the first one, the packaged modules are designed for (1550 nm) 400 Gb/s telcom transmitter (Tx) and receiver (Rx) applications capable of housing respective leading-edge InP based PIC components. In the second one, the packaged modules are designed for short-reach 400G datacom applications with particular focus on minimising the channel count and its associated cost through increasing the per-channel bitrate.

The second market that PIXAPP will explore will be Healthcare which is of significant importance to Europe with revenues of €95Bn per year. In this context, PIXAPP will develop a generic biosensor demonstrator (IMEC BioPIX) in which the packaged modules are designed for disposable biosensing applications supporting a variety of sensing protocols (refractive index, absorption spectroscopic and Raman spectroscopic sensing). In this case, the sensing functionality will be enabled by a compact Si3N4 PIC that will be functionalised with molecules that interact chemically with the analyte.

The third core market in which PIXAPP will focus on is Security.  PIXAPP will develop a demonstrator in which the packaged modules are designed for distributed fiber sensing application used in extreme or harsh environments. The device is intended for a wide range of target markets including medical, aeronautic, space and nuclear monitoring systems.

In addition to these internal demonstrators, several pre-commercial Pilot runs will be processed. The early roll-out of Pilot Line services in the third year of the project will promote early user adoption, which will increase visibility and market size enhancing Europe’s industrial competitiveness and leadership in advanced photonic technologies. PIXAPP will be a fully established Pilot Line by 2020, turning R&D results into innovative products in high growth emerging markets.


  1. EPIC (European Photonics Industry Consortium)
  2. Tyndall National Institute
  3. Argotech
  4. Microfluidic Chipshop
  5. Eblana Photonics
  6. Ficontec
  7. Fraunhofer-HHI
  8. IMEC
  9. Linkra
  10. PhoeniX
  11. Technical University Eindhoven
  12. Technobis IPPS
  13. VTT
  14. XiO Photonics
  15. Randox Laboratories
  16. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
  17. III-V Lab
  18. CEA-LETI


Peter O’Brien – Peter.obrien@tyndall.ie
Ana Gonzalez – ana.gonzalez@epic-assoc.com