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Tower Semiconductor ready to ramp Scintil's laser-integrated PICs

28 Feb 2024

Grenoble firm says 'pivotal' milestone reinforces its supply chain amid growing demand driven by AI and 5G requirements.

Scintil Photonics, the CEA-Leti spin-out specializing in silicon photonics, says that its integrated laser designs are now in production at foundry partner Tower Semiconductor.

Describing the development as a “pivotal step forward”, the approach is able to combine distributed feedback (DFB) lasers with photonic integrated circuits (PICs) for applications in high-speed optical communications.

Monolithic integration
Scintil’s proprietary PICs are said to enable monolithic integration of lasers and amplifiers, leading to improved performance, speed, reliability, and high-density at low power consumption in data centers supporting 5G connectivity and the computational demands of artificial intelligence (AI).

The designs are now being fabricated using Israel-headquartered Tower’s high-volume “PH18M” silicon photonics foundry process, which also features low-loss waveguides, photodetectors, and modulators. Production takes place on 200 mm-diameter wafers at Tower's fabrication facility in Newport Beach, California.

Scintil’s technology monolithically integrates DFB lasers and amplifiers on the backside of wafers, with customer tests of the PICs indicating robust performance and no need for a hermetic package.

CEO Sylvie Menezo, who founded the Grenoble startup having previously led CEA-Leti’s silicon photonics laboratory, said that the development represented a significant milestone.

“We are delighted to highlight our collaboration with Tower Semiconductor, a leading global foundry,” she commented. “Thanks to our long-time collaboration, we are well-positioned to deliver laser-augmented silicon photonic ICs that redefine integration, performance and scalabillity.

“This will position Scintil for high-volume production to meet market demands. In addition, our technology exhibits remarkable opportunities to accommodate the integration of more materials, such as quantum dot and lithium niobate materials.”

$7BN transceiver market
Demand for optical transceivers based on silicon photonics technology is expected to grow rapidly over the coming years, with market research firm LightCounting predicting compound annual growth rate of 24 per cent and a total addressable market worth at least $7 billion by 2025.

Edward Preisler, VP and general manager of Tower’s RF business unit, added: “We are excited to support Scintil in this highly integrated solution that makes use of proven production building blocks from Tower.

“The integration of III-V optical amplifiers [and/or] lasers aligns with Tower Semiconductor's commitment to bringing to market cutting-edge silicon photonic technologies.”

Having spun Scintil out of the CEA-Leti laboratory in 2018, Menezo has since led the startup through two rounds of fundraising, including a €13.5 million tranche in 2022 that was led by investor Robert Bosch Venture Capital.

© 2024 SPIE Europe
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