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Imec demonstrates the co-integration of its high-quality SiN waveguide technology with its active silicon photonics platform

LEUVEN (Belgium), January 31, 2022— Today, at an invited talk at SPIE
Photonics West (San Francisco), imec, a world-leading research and
innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies, announced
that it demonstrated co-integration of its high-quality silicon nitride
waveguide technology with its silicon photonics platform—without
performance degradation of the high-bandwidth active devices. An
important upgrade for imec’s silicon photonics platform, the result
enables the synthesis of high-quality wavelength-selective devices and
other optical passive functions that benefit from accurate optical phase
control, meeting market demands for optical transceivers for datacom,
LiDAR, and other applications.

Low propagation loss, accurate phase control, low-loss light coupling,
lower thermal variation, and high power handling are some of the reasons
why adding a high-quality silicon nitride (SiN) boosts silicon photonics
integrated circuits (PIC). High-quality SiN layers achieving low optical
losses and excellent control over the material properties, such as
thickness and refractive index variability, are crucial for improving
the energy efficiency of Si-based optical transceivers. Since such
high-quality SiN layers are deposited by the low-pressure chemical vapor
deposition (LPCVD) method at elevated temperatures, it is vital to avoid
degrading the performance of the co-integrated baseline Si and Ge devices.

Imec has tackled those integration challenges within its silicon
photonics platform “iSiPP,” which is available for industrial partners.
Thanks to various engineering updates and changes in the process flow,
imec has, for example, shown a more than four times reduction of the
variability of the resonant wavelength of SiN-based micro-rings compared
to the same device made with lower quality PECVD silicon nitride,
currently used in the imec platform, without degrading the co-integrated
active devices.
Philippe Absil, vice president at imec: “We are excited to have achieved
this major upgrade of our silicon photonics platform. The ability to
co-integrate high-quality SiN devices with our baseline technology is
important to broaden our offering to our partners who can now consider
system simplification with single PIC solutions to combine active and
SiN passive functions.”

About imec

Imec is a world-leading research and innovation center in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. Imec leverages its state-of-the-art R&D infrastructure and its team of more than 5,500 employees and top researchers, for R&D in advanced semiconductor and system scaling, silicon photonics, artificial intelligence, beyond 5G communications and sensing technologies, and in application domains such as health and life sciences, mobility, industry 4.0, agrofood, smart cities, sustainable energy, education, … Imec unites world-industry leaders across the semiconductor value chain, Flanders-based and international tech, pharma, medical and ICT companies, start-ups, and academia and knowledge centers. Imec is headquartered in Leuven (Belgium), and has research sites across Belgium, in the Netherlands and the USA, and representation in 3 continents. In 2021, imec’s revenue (P&L) totaled 732 million euro. 

Further information on imec can be found at www.imec-int.com.

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