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Tyndall to lead world’s first photonics packaging pilot line

Posted on: 28 Mar 2017

Tyndall to lead world’s first photonics packaging pilot line

New €15.5M Euro PIXAPP Photonics Packaging Pilot Line to Drive EU Growth and Competitiveness in Global Photonics Industry

The value of the photonics market is expected to be worth over €615 billion by 2020.  With Europe’s share of the production technology market currently at 55%, the European Union, in partnership with Photonics21, Europe’s premier photonics industry body, has identified photonics as a Key Enabling Technology (KET) critical for the future economic development of Europe. To provide Europe with a state-of-the-art infrastructure, supporting the industrial development and manufacture of Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs), the EU is investing €15.5 million in a new international consortium called PIXAPP, which will be led by Ireland’s Tyndall National Institute.

Prof. Peter O’Brien, PIXAPP Pilot Line Director and Head of Photonics Packaging Research at Tyndall National Institute

Photonics involves the generation, control and detection of light. It impacts our lives in many areas, including high-speed fiber optic communications, medical diagnostic sensors, the control of self-driving cars and emerging mass markets in the internet of things. Our need for photonics is driven by the fact that the speed and usage of our day to day technology is almost at capacity, whereas photonics will address mass market requirements in communications, healthcare and security.

Speaking from the Photonics21 AGM in Brussels, PIXAPP Pilot Line Director and Head of Photonics Packaging Research at Tyndall National Institute, Prof. Peter O’Brien said:

“The consortium involved in PIXAPP, led by Tyndall, has an unmatched record of excellence in delivering many world ‘firsts’ in PICs. We will establish ‘best in class’ PIC packaging technologies that are cost-effective and scalable to high volume manufacture. We will offer these technologies through a single easy access point, which we call the Pilot Line Gateway, which is located at Tyndall. Furthermore we plan to train and educate the photonics workforce of the future by creating a unique laboratory based training programme. This programme is a game-changer not only for the European photonics industry but also global photonics.”

Packaging PICs can represent up to 80% of the cost of photonics components so it is a critical area for the industry. PIXAPP is the world’s first open access PIC assembly and packaging pilot line, combining a highly-interdisciplinary team of Europe’s leading industrial and research organisations. Partners in the UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Finland, Italy and Czech Republic each bring their own particular expertise to provide SMEs with a unique infrastructure to help them exploit the breakthrough advantages of PIC technologies.

“In the past, it has been very expensive to manufacture high volumes of PICs, and more expensive and challenging again to package them. This is creating a bottleneck for production, which is impacting the potential for growth in the photonics industry. I am confident that Tyndall National Institute’s leadership will deliver market success for Europe and drive our competitiveness across the communications, medical, automotive, energy, safety and defence sectors globally,” said Jose Pozo, Director of the European Photonics Industry Consortium.

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