Synopsys and photonics industry leaders partner to advance PIC technology with plasmonics

Three-year project PLASMOfab advanced PICs and CMOS-compatible plasmonics for optical data communications and biosensing.

May 5th, 2019

Synopsys (Mountain View, CA; Nasdaq: SNPS) has announced that PLASMOfab, a research project funded by the EU innovation program Horizon 2020 to enable mass manufacturing of high-performance plasmophotonic components, has been successfully completed. Launched in 2016, the project brought together industrial partners and top-ranked academic and research institutes in the photonic integrated circuit (PIC) and optoelectronics value chain, including PhoeniX Software, now part of Synopsys' Photonic Solutions.

The three-year research project significantly advanced the state of the art in PICs and CMOS-compatible plasmonics for optical data communications and biosensing for point-of-care applications, says Synopsys. PLASMOfab has developed CMOS-compatible plasmonics to consolidate advanced PICs with electronic ICs in volume manufacturing. The project focused on CMOS-compatible metals and photonic structures that are harmonically co-integrated with electronics using standardized CMOS processes. As part of project validation, the PIC platform was used along with advanced peripherals to develop predominant functional modules with unprecedented performance.

A key project achievement was the development of an ultracompact plasmonic transmitter, with a footprint of 90 x 5.5 µm2 to transmit 0.8 TBit/s through four individual 0.2 TBit/s transmitters. The project also demonstrated CMOS-compatible plasmonic waveguides with the lowest possible losses.1

"PLASMOfab's main goal has been to address the ever-increasing needs for low energy, small size, high complexity, and high performance mass-manufactured PICs," says Nikos Pleros, assistant professor at the Aristotle University (Thessaloniki, Greece). "We have achieved this by developing a revolutionary yet CMOS-compatible fabrication platform for seamless co-integration of active plasmonics with photonic and electronic components."

As a result of the PLASMOfab research, two new companies have been launched to commercialize the new technologies:

--Bialoom will further explore plasmophotonic biosensors in multichannel and high-sensitivity point-of-care diagnostics by combining plasmonic sensors with integrated Si3N4 photonic functionalities, electrical controls, biofunctionalization techniques, and microfluidics.

--Polariton Technologies specializes in new photonic and electronic technologies for the testing, sensing, and telecommunications market. Their energy-efficient and low-footprint plasmonic modulator will convert microwave signals to optical signals.

"We are pleased to have been working closely with the partners in this project and especially with AMO and ams to develop R&D PDKs for the new PLASMOfab integration technology," says Twan Korthorst, director of Synopsys' Photonic Solutions. "The PDKs are supported by our PIC design platform, which provides the industry's only full design flow from photonic-device level to PIC to system levels."



1. George Dbos et al., Nature Scientific Reports (2018);

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