Initiative for Lithium Niobate Photonics Launched in Europe

The ELENA project, a part of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program, seeks to develop the first European lithium niobate on an insulator using an all-European supply chain.

FREMONT, CA: The ELENA project, which is part of the European Commission's Horizon 2020 programme and stands for "European electro-optic and nonlinear PIC platform based on lithium niobate," conducted its inaugural meeting during the second week of February. ELENA wants to create the first European lithium niobate on insulator (LNOI)-based platform for photonic integrated circuits (PICs) with an all-European supply chain, according to the company.

The ELENA project, which is part of the European Commission's Horizon 2020 programme and stands for "European electro-optic and nonlinear PIC platform based on lithium niobate," conducted its inaugural meeting during the second week of February. ELENA wants to create the first European lithium niobate on insulator (LNOI)-based platform for photonic integrated circuits (PICs) with an all-European supply chain, according to the company.

Lithium Niobate on Insulator, as an electro-optic and nonlinear PCI platform for ultrahigh-speed telecom networks, optical signal processing, programmable PICs, sensing, lidar applications, quantum information processing, and quantum computing, outperforms existing PIC platforms used in Europe and other photonic materials such as silicon, silicon nitride, and indium phosphide, according to a press release announcing the project's kickoff.

LNOI's optical properties, such as its high electro-optic coefficient, high intrinsic second-and third-order nonlinearities, and a huge transparency window of 350 to 5500 nm, were also highlighted in the press release.

The goal of the project is to create the first open-access PIC foundry for LNOI technology based on a PDK library, which will be accessible to all stakeholders. ELENA also intends to create a completely European industrial supply chain for LNOI technology, which will include LNOI wafer manufacturing, a high-yield fabrication process for foundry service, design software that includes the PDK, and LNOI PIC packaging.

ELENA will develop a process to mass-produce 150-mm optical-grade LNOI wafers on an industrial scale, a reliable and flexible packaging solution to interface LNOI chips with optical fibres and other PIC platforms, and demonstrate and validate the technology by developing four PIC prototypes for different use cases: telecom, quantum technologies, and microwave photonics.

From January 1, 2022, to June 30, 2025, the project will last 42 months. It consists of three research institutes, four industrial enterprises, and three SMEs, and is coordinated by the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM).