Intelligent medical implants and integrated biochemical sensors, novel optical signal processors and neuromorphic microchips for speech- and pattern recognition, secure communication and data security systems are becoming increasingly important in modern society and are demanding research and engineering tasks. Many of these important areas of work are based on optical technologies and microelectronic circuits, however, these interdisciplinary application fields and demanding engineering areas are beyond the classical use of each single technology platform alone - electronics or photonics - and a synergistic combination of both disciplines promises to merge the best of both worlds for a number of relevant applications.
I3-HELIOS is the scientific accompanying project of the HELIOS initiative addressing the co-integration of photonics and microelectronics. Based on the ForLab HELIOS project with 5.2 MEuro funding from BMBF for equipment and installation the I3-Lab provides man power for establishing the research infrastructure and creating fundamental results as the basis for future exploitation of co-integrated optoelectronic systems. Joining the complementary expertise of our groups and the Center of Hybrid Nanostructures of UHH I3-HELIOS is well on track to setup the research infrastructure and to develop a technology basis for a sustainable research agenda in photonics/microelectronics co-integration. While MST group is focusing on fabrication technology as an integration platform and OEM group is developing unique photonic crystal devices, IIC and TET groups are laying the foundation for optoelectronic implants.
The co-integration of microelectronics and photonics as enabling technology opens up new fields of application with tremendous growth potential in medical and sensor technology, optical communication and signal processing all the way to optical computing.
Project objectives as well as technology and measurement facility improvements include:
- Strategic investments in state-of-art nanotechnology processing machines and laboratory equipment strengthen the project partners along the entire development cycle of novel integrated optoelectronic systems.
- Defining common system-on-chip approaches for photonics and electronics will minimize development time for interdisciplinary research areas.
- Maturity of component design, fabrication, testing and packaging will be enhanced by professional equipment and critical mass of collaborating researchers.
- Creating an infrastructure with outstanding profile focusing on sensor technology and medical engineering as well as optical signal processing and computing addressing applications far beyond the traditional optical communication.
- Establishing a cross-disciplinary nucleus for research and teaching in optoelectronic systems and their applications involving local, national and international academia, research centers and industry.
Objectives and Technological Challenges are:
- Research and development in novel co-integration concepts of the two key technologies electronics and photonics.
- Exploiting the added value of co-functionality of photonics and electronics in integrated systems, particularly for applications in medical engineering, sensor technology, and optical communication and signal processing.
- Combining and strengthening the international research impact of Hamburg University of Technology and University of Hamburg on integrated optoelectronic systems.
- Exploring the benefits of co-integration of microelectronics and photonics, which are still considered too isolated and complementarily.
- Merging the process sequences and value chain in design and simulation, manufacturing, system testing, and packaging for co-integrated photonic-electronic integrated circuits.
I3 HELIOS tackles engineering and scientific issues with a holistic view on the complex development and manufacturing cycle including design and modelling, fabrication, component characterization and testing, integration as well system packaging.
The I3-Lab HELIOS project is funded by the Hamburg Departmental for Science, Research, and Equal Treatment (BWFG) from April 2019 to March 2022.
The process machinery and laboratory equipment invests are granted by "Forschungslabore Mikroelektronik Deutschland (ForLab)" from Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in the Federal Government's Framework Programme for Research and Innovation "Mikroelektronik aus Deutschland - Innovationstreiber der Digitalisierung".