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AIM Photonics' test, assembly, and packaging site 'ready to roll'

20 Nov 2018

Comprehensive set of tools expected to push frontiers of 'fiber attach' for multi-project wafers.

by Ford Burkhart
A cutting-edge multi-project wafer (MPW) facility at AIM Photonics in Rochester, New York, is nearly ready to roll.

Officials said last week that the delayed Test, Assembly, and Packaging (TAP) site will begin services for customers next month. The TAP facility is a core element of the $600 million-plus silicon photonics development hub first announced in summer 2015 by New York governor Andrew Cuomo and then-US vice president Joe Biden.

Alongside the US Department of Defense as its primary funder, more than 100 private and public partners are now involved in the scheme.

Fiber attach capability
High-tech processing, testing, and metrology equipment is currently being installed at the TAP facility’s 12,000 square feet of cleanroom space at the Eastman Business Park in Rochester, New York. Ed White, AIM Photonics’ associate VP for test, assembly, and packaging said: “We will begin working with customers in December. One of our primary photonic capabilities is fiber attach.”

AIM has purchased an advanced custom development and production-capable fiber-attach tool from ficonTEC, based in Achim, Germany.

White explained: “Leveraging AIM funded development and acquired intellectual property, the tool will have the capability to precisely attach single fibers as well as ribbon fiber. The tool has passed our final acceptance testing and will be installed in the next few weeks. We are pleased to already have customers ready to begin development work on this state-of-the-art tool.”

Other examples of the TAP facility’s resources include a state-of-the-art photonic and electronic probe tool currently in final fabrication and acceptance testing and almost ready for installation.

“Customers are excited about the ability to do wafer- and chip-scale photonic testing,” White said. “Our pick-and-place tool, which has capability to do precision ‘flip-chip’ as well as place laser die, will soon be installed. [It] will enable customers to do precision integration.”

PIC production
AIM Photonics kicked off in Rochester three years ago, when Cuomo and Biden revealed that the New York consortium had won a nationwide competition to create what’s officially called the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics.

Focused on photonic integrated circuit (PIC) technology design, manufacturing, and commercialization, it is expected to realize new applications in optical communications, defense, and biophotonics fields.

A key partner in AIM Photonics is the SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany, where the project’s Integrated Photonics Wafer Development Engineering team is based.

The AIM Photonics CEO Michael Liehr, who is also executive VP for innovation and technology at SUNY Poly, told AIM’s recent biannual meeting that it has created an “innovation-focused ecosystem ... driving the cross-pollination of game-changing ideas to initiate technological progress in this field.”

The hub, he said, provides access to world-class silicon photonics components for the development of optical transceivers used in data centers and high-performance computers, as well as other applications such as lidar and sensors.

“AIM Photonics early on reached its goal of providing cost-effective access to a state-of-the-art integrated photonics platform for institutes [of] all sizes,” added Frank Tolic, the project’s marketing chief. “In addition to that access, we now provide the most advanced PIC MPW vehicle, with industry-leading performance in cycle time, cost, and quality.”

The biannual meeting also heard keynote talks on topics including quantum silicon photonics, by Syrus Ziai, VP of engineering at PsiQuantum in Palo Alto, California, and on the US National Nanotechnology Initiative by key coordinator, Lisa Friedersdorf.

About the Author

Ford Burkhart is a writer based in Tucson, Arizona.

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