Metrology Center Adds to Growing Dutch Photonics Ecosystem

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The Netherlands’ Photonic Integration Technology Center (PITC) has launched a dedicated metrology program, aimed at developing design-for-test methodologies and new product characterization and test automation tools. Within the PITC, which itself looks to accelerate the uptake of integrated photonics by bridging the divide between research and application, the metrology program consortium includes integrated photonics designers, manufacturers, and product suppliers, as well as automated test equipment suppliers.

The program kicked off in September and remains open to international companies as a neutral platform for photonics metrology development.

The development of the center targets the sizeable effect integrated photonics is poised to deliver society — as well as the long product development cycles and limited production throughput barriers that hinder integrated photonics’ adoption. Further, the number of tests required to stabilize a process and increase throughput is relatively high.

Therefore, testing processes must improve in accuracy, reliability, throughput/speed, and cost-efficiency, according to Sylwester Latkowski, scientific director of PITC and lead of the metrology program.

“There is an urgent need to improve the scalability of the currently available test solutions, to facilitate an efficient process from the prototyping to the pilot phase, and to production in small batches and ultimately large volumes,” Latkowski said. “Regarding the challenges in integrated photonics, a shift can be observed from the design phase to the assembly, packaging, and testing phases, which together account for 70% to 80% of the production cost, but which have until recently been overlooked by many parties. Testing will be crucial in gaining the market’s confidence in the expected yield and performance of photonic devices.

“Our ambition is to reduce product development cycles by three months through enabling ‘right first time’ design, thus preventing unnecessary and costly design iterations.”
Sylwester Latkowski, Scientific Director at PITC (left), Jan Mink, CEO at VTEC. Courtesy of PhotonDelta.
Sylwester Latkowski, scientific director at PITC (left), and Jan Mink, CEO at VTEC, a provider of laser- and sensor-based solutions. Courtesy of PhotonDelta.
According to Latkowski, new test tools will help to drastically increase testing throughput. The complexity of photonic product to be developed could necessitate a throughout increase from minutes to second per device. If improvements in throughput prove unattainable, he said, massively parallel testing procedures can serve as an alternative.

“Overall, we are striving for a throughput increase by a factor of 10. Production flow data analysis can also contribute to this,” Latkowski said.

The metrology program’s consortium includes integrated photonics designer BRIGHT Photonics; photonic chip manufacturer SMART Photonics; photonic product suppliers VTEC and PhotonFirst; and automated test equipment suppliers Salland Engineering, FiconTEC, and APEX Technologies. The program has a multiyear outlook and a launching budget of around 5 million euros ($5.18 million) provided by PhotonDelta and the participating companies on an equal basis.

Published: November 2022
Metrology is the science and practice of measurement. It encompasses the theoretical and practical aspects of measurement, including the development of measurement standards, techniques, and instruments, as well as the application of measurement principles in various fields. The primary objectives of metrology are to ensure accuracy, reliability, and consistency in measurements and to establish traceability to recognized standards. Metrology plays a crucial role in science, industry,...
integrated photonics
Integrated photonics is a field of study and technology that involves the integration of optical components, such as lasers, modulators, detectors, and waveguides, on a single chip or substrate. The goal of integrated photonics is to miniaturize and consolidate optical elements in a manner similar to the integration of electronic components on a microchip in traditional integrated circuits. Key aspects of integrated photonics include: Miniaturization: Integrated photonics aims to...
integrated optics
A thin-film device containing miniature optical components connected via optical waveguides on a transparent dielectric substrate, whose lenses, detectors, filters, couplers and so forth perform operations analogous to those of integrated electronic circuits for switching, communications and logic.
process control
The collection and analysis of data relevant to monitoring the rate and quality of industrial production, either continuously or in batches. Corrections can be made manually or automatically, via a feedback control loop.
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