The Fraunhofer Project Center (on the campus of the University of Twente) will develop a special micro assembly machine for photonic chips. This will enable a transition from small production runs to large-scale production, through the company PHIX Photonics Assembly.
Photonic circuits, that is, circuits operating with light are becoming more common, for example in telecommunications and medical applications. Currently these are often 'high-end' applications in small production quantities, but this can change quickly when photonic chips are employed on a large scale in 5G-networks, according to the University of Twente spin-off company LioniX International.
Scaling up the manufacturing of photonic components requires good production technologies for the assembly and packaging as a primary requirement. And this is completely different from 'ordinary' electronic chip manufacturing – for example the joining of glass fibers to photonic circuits.
The Fraunhofer Project Center will develop an innovative machine for this and will guide PHIX Photonics Assembly (of which both LioniX as well as the University of Twente are shareholders) with knowledge of new production processes. Initially this involves the production of 'mid-volume' quantities (1,000 to 100,000 pieces); in due course PHIX expects to grow to production quantities on the order of millions of pieces.