Technology of Active Alignment
The development and manufacturing of photonic devices reminds us in many ways of the early years of the semiconductor industry in the mid-1980s. PI was a young company at the time and already deeply integrated into the production tools being deployed in early fabs around the world. But these tools were usually homemade by in-house or captive local systems integrators. The vast ecosystem of toolmakers that the industry enjoys today had yet to be born. The situation is similar in photonics today: the toolmaker ecosystem is just emerging. While the front-end manufacturing of photonic-enabled wafers can rely on the existing microlithography infrastructure, the industry for the back-end processes is just starting to develop. Some excellent tools and toolmakers have already emerged, and in-house test/assembly machine design remains an option for many silicon photonics device manufacturers.