26 January 2018
GCS, Intengent and VLC Photonics partner on one-stop fabless development services for InP PICs
© Semiconductor Today Magazine / Juno PublishiPicture: Disco’s DAL7440 KABRA laser saw.
Compound semiconductor wafer fabrication foundry Global Communication Semiconductors (GCS) of Torrance, CA, USA, independent III-V photonics consultancy Intengent of Ottawa, Canada, and photonic integrated circuit (PIC) design house VLC Photonics of Valencia, Spain, are partnering to jointly offer fabless development and production services for customized PICs in indium phosphide (InP).
GCS provides wafer foundry services based on a proprietary regrowth-free process in InP. Originally developed as optoelectronic and heterojunction bipolar transistor (HBT) processes, it also allows prototyping and volume-scalable production of PICs. The key enabler is a photonic integration platform that is compatible with the foundry’s regrowth-free process and yet is suitable for a variety of applications.
Intengent has developed such a platform, termed Taper Assisted Vertical Integration (TAVI), which is regrowth-free, based on the GCS process, and enables decoupling of epitaxial growth and wafer fabrication. TAVI covers many PIC applications, including those in growing and emerging markets, like optical interconnects and switching markets. It also offers complementary solutions to silicon photonics, which is considered by many to be the technology of choice for high-scale integration but lacks amplifying, lasing and other functions that are naturally implementable in InP. In a three-way partnership with GCS and VLC, Intengent is working towards making TAVI a generic platform while preserving its flexibility and openness to PIC customization.
VLC Photonics has expertise in generic photonic integration platforms and, as a fabless and independent design house for PICs, has been developing design libraries and process design kits (PDK) for different foundry platforms and customers. A PDK for the TAVI platform reduces the PIC design effort and risk, by shifting the focus towards circuit-level simulations. The evolving PDK is based on verified active and passive building blocks, and is already used in commercial PIC designs carried out by the partnership.
“Our well-established opto and RFIC processes have great synergies with the TAVI PIC platform,” says GCS’ CEO Brian Ann. “Our 4” and 6” wafer capability as well, based on a commercially supplied one-step-growth epitaxy, creates a unique opportunity for PICs in InP,” he adds. “The GCS–Intengent–VLC partnership can fully utilize this opportunity and generate a significant business for PICs in various markets. By leveraging the infrastructure and expertise that we have gained through years of serving high-volume RF electronics and optoelectronics markets, this partnership offers time- and cost-efficient PIC development into production,” he states.
“GCS is an advanced III-V foundry with a high InP wafer throughout both in RF electronics and optoelectronics markets,” comments Intengent’s CEO Valery Tolstikhin. “The TAVI platform takes advantage of GCS’ process maturity and extends it to PICs in InP,” he adds. “To make the technology suitable for a fabless PIC development, one more thing is needed: the PDK. This is where VLC comes in, bringing a wealth of experience in PIC design and characterization. The fabrication process, the integration platform, and the PDK, together, make a versatile generic platform for PICs in InP that allows the end users to access the commercial-grade technology under the fabless model,” he adds.
“VLC has a solid approach to working with foundries, EDA [electronic design automation] partners and customers on PDK development, based on its commercial and proprietary design tools, characterization techniques, and in-house test & measurement capabilities,” says VLC’s CEO Iñigo Artundo. “TAVI implemented over the GCS process has a great potential as a generic platform for PICs in InP, enabling both customization and volume scalability in an environment of industrial-grade wafer fabrication,” he adds.