About Project Flagship:
Project Flagship is a PhotonDelta-funded effort for a stronger, more collaborative, and better-connected Dutch integrated photonics ecosystem. The competences and capacities of the ecosystem, including chip design, chip manufacturing, assembly, packaging, and testing, will be pooled together to prepare integrated photonics modules for the final frontier: outer space!
Devices that are bound for outer space must be small, light, and power-efficient to reduce the cost of their transport and upkeep. Photonic integrated circuits (PICs) make for a perfect technology to upgrade the design and production of space-related devices. However, the harsh conditions of space travel will test the devices in ways unthinkable on Earth, whether in terms of the violent vibrations experienced by payloads as their escape the atmosphere, or the extremely low temperatures, or the constant exposure to radiation. Additionally, devices in space are typically not maintained, so they must be functional for the entirety of their functional lifetime.
For these and other reasons, the quality standards for space are the highest among industrial applications. Many of these standards also apply for other fields where integrated photonics show a lot of promise, such as medical and automotive industries. Through this effort, the Dutch photonics ecosystem will be brought to a higher level of maturity to make the grade for these standards. Project Flagship will test and improve the reliability, performance, scalability, and manufacturability for medium to high volume PIC modules. By setting the bar at the height of space-ready devices, challenges and improvements in the ecosystem will be identified and implemented. The insight resulting from the work of the project is expected to be inspirational for the work of all involved parties. Besides testing and demonstrating the maturity of the Dutch photonic ecosystem, the project will help LioniX International and consortium members reach their development roadmap milestones faster and more confidently.
The Role of LioniX International:
LioniX International chairs the project as the oldest member of the consortium with experience in space applications in its past and current record. In this capacity, we will take care of administrative aspects of the project and facilitate smooth collaboration between Dutch ecosystem project members. We will also lead the consortium in our collective work on system architecture and configuration design. As the most mature platforms in integrated photonics with proven functionality, indium phosphide and TriPleX® silicon nitride will comprise the photonic chips of the modules. These platforms are already key technologies in product development for satcom and terrestrial beamforming applications. We will apply our expertise in circuit design on both platforms, and we will fabricate and supply the silicon nitride circuits. We will advise on the design of the control electronics and drivers as well as the final package containing both photonic and electronic components. We will also help with chip testing and characterization, chip and fiber assembly, and PCB design for photonic chips control.