UK-Based Cornerstone Project Receives New Funds to Develop Silicon Based Platforms for Photonic ICs

Posted Feb 14, 2020 by CORNERSTONE

CORNERSTONE, a UK-based open-access Silicon Photonics rapid prototyping foundry team, has won ~£1.5M in funding from the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Centre (EPSRC) to expand the capabilities offered by the service. The researchers will be working under the project titled, ‘CORNERSTONE 2’, which is a collaborative project between teams led by Professor Graham Reed at the University of Southampton and Professor Marc Sorel at the University of Glasgow. The Glasgow team will be responsible for integrating light sources onto silicon photonics chips, a major step in the commercialization of silicon photonics. The Southampton team will be responsible for the remaining platforms on 200 mm substrates, utilizing the deep-UV projection lithography capability installed in the first CORNERSTONE project.

In CORNERSTONE 2, the team will develop 6 new silicon-based technology platforms for researchers to design their photonic integrated circuits. The platforms extend the supported wavelength range into both the visible wavelengths and mid-infrared wavelengths, enabling a plethora of applications including LiDAR, lab-on-a-chip sensing and more. The 6 new platforms comprise:

  • Flip-chip bonding of electronic circuits to photonics
  • Pick and place of laser dies to facilitate on-chip light sources for multiple applications
  • A high confinement Silicon Nitride photonics platform with thickness up to 1 µm
  • An undercut Silicon Photonics platform to facilitate photonics circuits that operate at wavelengths up to 4 µm
  • A Germanium-on-Silicon platform for photonics circuits that operate at wavelengths up to 12 µm
  • Deep-UV projection lithography service

According to Professor Harold Chong, project co-investigator and Professor of Electronic Engineering in the Electronics and Computer Science department, the flexibility of the processes and the variety of the platforms available in CORNERSTONE 2 gives researchers numerous options when designing optoelectronics devices and systems.

The project will officially commence on 1 March 2020 and run for 2-years. UK academics will have the opportunity to access the new platforms free-of-charge for the final 6 months of the project, with access opportunities for international researchers available for a charge during this final 6 month period and beyond. Throughout the CORNERSTONE 2 project, the team will be consulting the community to determine if they would like to see CORNERSTONE become an EPSRC National Research Facility (NRF). The current SOI capability will continue to operate as it has done for the previous years.