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  7. 2021/07/01 【Miniaturize your optical system into a photonic integrated circuit】 by VLC Photonics

2021/07/01【Miniaturize your optical system into a photonic integrated circuit】 by VLC Photonics

This time, our group company, VLC Photonics, will issue the white paper “Miniaturize your optical system into a photonic integrated circuit”.
We will distribute the contents of this white paper with this newsletter over 3 weeks.
The white paper includes the market, technology and challenges of Photonic Integrated Circuit, so we hope you have interest in Photonic Integration and VLC Photonics.

VLC Photonics Whitepaper v2.2 June, 2021

Miniaturize your optical system into a photonic integrated circuit


Photonic technologies use the light to enable multiple applications nowadays, from optical telecommunications to biomedical diagnostic devices or precise fiber sensors for all kinds of structures. Still, optical components tend to be bulky and expensive, and require precise stabilization and assembly, especially when interfacing with electronics. Embedding some photonic functionalities into an integrated optical chip can simplify a system and dramatically decrease its costs.

However, the cutting-edge optical manufacturing technologies enabling such chip integration were traditionally affordable only by very few. Nowadays, generic photonic integration has been demonstrated as a very interesting technology that provides cost effective and high-performance miniaturization for a wide range of applications and markets.

In this white paper we highlight the advantages of using photonic integrated circuits, and we give a brief overview of the new generic and fabless manufacturing models and how you can benefit from them.


This paper is mainly addressed to:

  • Technology Officers
  • R&D Managers
  • Product Developing Engineers

What will you learn from this paper
You will be introduced to the concept of photonics integration, and understand how it can improve your optical systems through:

  • size and weight reduction,
  • improved stability and robustness
  • increased functionality and performance
  • reduced assembly, packaging, test and operation costs

Illustrative images of photonic design layouts(left) and the corresponding manufactured photonic integrated circuits(right).

Illustrative images of photonic design layouts(left) and the corresponding manufactured photonic integrated circuits(right).

Illustrative images of photonic design layouts(left) and the corresponding manufactured photonic integrated circuits(right).

Illustrative images of photonic design layouts(left) and the corresponding manufactured photonic integrated circuits(right).


What is an ASPIC, and what are its advantages?
An Application Specific Photonic Integrated Circuit (ASPIC) is an optical chip designed for a very particular purpose, that allows to generate, manipulate and detect light signals by means of other light and/or electronic signals.

An ASPIC may integrate several active optical devices, like lasers or photo-detectors, and passive structures like splitters, couplers, interferometers, filters, or polarization handling elements.
The unique ability to replace the traditional assembly of several discrete optical or micro-optical components by a single miniaturized chip, places ASPICs as the major driver for future optical systems and photonic enabled products*1-5.
Such integration brings the following benefits:

  • cost reduction, especially for large volumes (thousands to millions), due to lower packaging and testing costs,
  • aggregation of functionalities, lowering design complexity and increasing scalability and yield, and
  • decrease in size, volume and weight, with higher robustness and simpler assemblies.

Where is photonic integration being applied?
The discipline dealing with the design and manufacturing of ASPICs is known as Photonic Integration.
The global photonic IC market was valued at USD 5017.2 million in 2019, and it is projected to be worth USD 20129.5 million by 2025, registering a CAGR of 28.30% during the period of 2020-20256.
Most of the products incorporating an optical module or subassembly can benefit from merging some or most of its optical functionalities into a single ASPIC.
This is enabling the aggressive price drop required in optical telecom to sustain IP traffic growth*7, or the commoditization of bio-photonic and lab-on-a-chip applications for the medical and sensing markets*8-9.


M. Lebby, “Photonic Integration: What is the Holy Grail?,” in Compound Semiconductor, pp. 25-32, October, 2009.
A. Welrich, “PIC-based transceivers enable cost-effective 1G to 10G PON migration,” in Lightwave Online, March, 2010.
Chris Cole, Bernd Huebne, John E. Johnson, "Photonic Integration for High-Volume, Low-Cost Applications," IEEE Communications Magazine, March 2009.
Yasuhiko Arakawa, Takahiro Nakamura, Yutaka Urino and Tomoyuki Fujita, "Silicon Photonics for Next Generation System Integration Platform," IEEE Communications Magazine, March 2013.
The National Photonics Initiative, "Lighting the Path to a Competitive, Secure Future," Whitepaper, May 23, 2013.
Cisco Systems, “Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2012-201 7 ,” May, 2013.
Yole Développement & Tematys, "Biophotonics Market, Focus on Life Sciences & Health Applications," report April 2013.
BCC Research, "Global Biochip Markets: Microarrays and Lab-on-a-Chip," October 2013.

Legal Disclaimer
This white paper, © by VLC Photonics S.L. intends to facilitate the knowledge of the trademark, its activities and services. Consequently, VLC Photonics S.L. reserve all rights, especially the rights of reproduction, distribution, communication to the public and transformation.
VLC Photonics S.L. is not responsible for any consequences or damages that may arrive from the use of any of the information contained within this document or its references.
The conditions for the partial reproduction of elements in this white paper are:

  • That VLC Photonics S.L. is cited specifically as the source of the information or material.
  • That the information and content is cited solely on the basis that it is used for information purposes only and not for commercial gain or any other distinct use that is not private or individual.
  • That no content contained in this white paper is modified in whatever form.
  • That no image available on this white paper shall be used, copied or distributed separately from the accompanying text or other content that accompanies it.
  • That it is communicated in writing and in an irrefutable manner to VLC Photonics S.L. and, that certified authorization is obtained from the company for the stated reproduction.

In next issue, “Main integration technologies” and “how integrations can be achieved” will be explained.
Click here to know more about Photonic Integration and VLC Photonics.

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