EFFICIENTlight – Efficient fiber-PIC connection via wafer-scale glass molding

Developing an innovative technology for single-mode glass fiber coupling

Project duration: 1.2.2019 – 31.1.2022

Increasing demand for higher data rates and longer transmission paths are driving efforts to produce a single-mode optic, requiring only one single light mode to transfer data which substantially improves the commonly used infrastructures. However, the micro-optics needed to link photonic, integrated circuits (PIC) to optical fibers are only a few millimeters in size and call for extreme precision both at the manufacturing stage and when they are assembled. Consequently, these have a significant impact on the overall cost: fiber coupling accounts for up to 50 percent of the total manufacturing cost.

Within the framework of the project “EFFICIENTlight – Efficient fiber-PIC coupling via wafer-scale glass molding”, which is being undertaken by a collaborative venture comprising the RWTH Aachen University, Fraunhofer IPT and partners from industry, the partners in the project will develop an innovative, efficient glass fiber coupling technology which will operate on the basis of the replicative process of precision glass molding. The expertise of the project partners covers all aspects of the development of single-mode glass fiber connection – from the optical and electrical design of the connectors and PICs through process technology, machine tool manufacture and assembly technology to application within the system. In addition to the fundamental issues relating to system architecture, process design and tool manufacture, practical solutions will be developed to ensure that the modules can be integrated smoothly.

It is envisaged that glass forming technologies for use in manufacturing micro-optics will be developed at the Fraunhofer IPT. In addition to the isothermal process of precision glass molding, the more efficient non-isothermal molding technique will be explored. The second main research goal is to manufacture micro-optics at wafer level. This will involve producing a number of structurally identical elements at the same time in one molding operation and then separating them, as is common practice in wafer manufacture for the micro-electronics sector. This will potentially increase the efficiency both of the manufacturing process itself and of the subsequent production operations. The final step will focus on the construction of test modules and testing in an actual network environment. werden.

Project partners

Partners from industry

  • Mellanox Technologies, Ltd.
  • GD Optical Competence GmbH
  • Aixemtec GmbH
  • aiXscale photonics UG
  • son-x GmbH

Research partners

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT
  • RWTH Aachen University, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology

Project funding

The research project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the Photonics Research Germany Program.