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PhotonicLEAP project awarded €5 million in EU funding

27 Jul 2021

Ireland-led initiative to develop disruptive photonics packaging and test tech is “at the forefront of global photonics industry”.

PhotonicLEAP, a European collaborative project coordinated by Ireland's Tyndall National Institute, based in Cork, has been awarded over €5 million through the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme to develop what it calls “game-changing technology to drive down the cost of photonics manufacturing”.

With demand for photonics being driven by mass market technology requirements, the global photonics market is expected to be worth over €850 billion by 2026, says Tyndall’s announcement.

Key sector technologies highlighted by the Institute include high speed fiber optic communications, cardiac diagnostic sensors, self-driving cars and a myriad of IoT technologies that all require photonic integrated circuits (PICs).

The European Union is driving a state-of-the-art manufacturing infrastructure for the photonics industry, and through the PhotonicLEAP program, is positioning Europe at the forefront of wafer-level photonics integration development, packaging and test technologies to reduce the cost of production tenfold.

Tyndall's Head of Photonics Packaging and Systems Integration, Prof. Peter O'Brien, has pioneered a number of EU photonics projects and will lead PhotonicsLEAP.

Welcoming the funding for the project, Prof. O’Brien commented, “Photonics is the key to unlocking the potential of technologies we need for today's interconnected world. We need faster, more efficient, greener and cheaper solutions to our increasing usage of technology, which photonics manufacturing addresses.

“Therefore, we are delighted to receive this significant and vital funding from the European Commission to enable us to develop truly disruptive photonic packaging and test technologies. We are confident that photonic packaging and test technologies developed in PhotonicLEAP can make a real impact to increase the uptake of Integrated Photonics across Europe,” he added.

‘Revolutionary’ surface mounting

The PhotonicLEAP program will develop new technologies to produce a revolutionary Surface Mount Technology (SMT) PIC package, which for the first time incorporates multiple optical and electrical connections and can be scaled from low to very large volumes.

The project will validate these technologies through two state-of-the-art demonstrators, including a high-speed optical communication module and a portable medical device for cardio-vascular diagnostics. Furthermore, the technologies will be implemented by the flagship European PIC Packaging Pilot Line, PIXAPP, for future commercialisation.

The PhotonicLEAP consortium includes a number of renowned research organisations and companies, including Fraunhofer institutes (IZM & HHI), LPKF Laser & Electronic, ficonTEC Ireland, SUSS MicroOptics, BOSCH, Eindhoven University of Technology – TU/e and Interuniversitair Micro-Electronica Centrum – imec as well as Tyndall National Institute.

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