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The Quantum Photonic Integrated Circuit PACkaging (QPICPAC) project will develop a template-driven approach to minimise custom development requirements and costs for quantum technology companies. QPICs are chips made using the same fabrication techniques that are used to make semiconductor chips for computers but to make circuits that manipulate light. These types of chips are already being used for energy-efficient transceivers for data centres, LiDAR for autonomous vehicles and sensors for healthcare applications, but they are especially useful for quantum technologies.
Typically, demonstrations of quantum photonics technologies like trapped ion computing or quantum secure communication use bulky, expensive optical setups which aren’t suitable for mass production. As QPICs are made using scalable semiconductor fabrication processes, they can be made reliably at high volume and are key for making quantum technologies manufacturable at scale. However, the route from a chip design to a finished product is not simple. A key issue is packaging – getting light on and off the chip, as well as making sure that the end device is suitable for the environment in which it will be deployed. Currently, this is a bespoke process, which means that it is slower to develop and more expensive than it needs to be.
The goal of the QPICPAC project is to develop design templates and components to minimise the amount of bespoke work needed, meaning that packaging will be simpler and more affordable for those seeking to exploit QPIC technologies.
Quantum Dice (another SETsquared Scale-Up member), which is developing QPIC-based quantum random number generators, will be acting as a trial customer for the project to provide insights into the needs of quantum photonics companies intending to make products in high volume.
SETsquared’s Scale-Up Programme supported Wave Photonics successful bid by making introductions to academics at the universities of Bristol and Southampton as well as providing a professional bid writing resource.
Jiangbo Zhu, Senior Photonics Engineer at Wave Photonics, said: “Having worked on integrated photonics for over a decade, it’s thrilling to see the pace that quantum photonics is progressing. I’m looking forward to working with the consortium to develop solutions to help accelerate the already rapid progress in the QPIC industry.”
Rob Roach, Business Development Manager at Alter, said: “This project offers a unique opportunity to bring together representatives of all the stakeholders in the quantum PIC world and push forward in the UK the commercialisation of quantum technology.”
Bernard Lee, Director of Technology and Innovation at Senko, said: “Working on this project brings back memories of my days as a researcher in the UK, and I am thrilled to have this opportunity again. SENKO has been actively involved in many international standards and industrial bodies, and through QPICPAC, we hope to introduce the very best in leading-edge optical interconnect technology to this project.”
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