Exciting Developments in Packaging & Systems Integration for Quantum Technologies at UCC’s Tyndall National Institute

Exciting Developments in Packaging & Systems Integration for Quantum Technologies at UCC’s Tyndall National Institute

IrelandQCI, the ‘Building a National Quantum Communication Infrastructure for Ireland’ project incorporates integrating innovative and secure quantum devices and systems into conventional communication infrastructures. Technology specialists in six universities are pooling their expertise and resources to add an extra security layer to Ireland’s communication infrastructure and the data it transmits.

UCC’s Tyndall National Institute plays a vital role in the consortium of IrelandQCI partners. Tyndall is a leading European research centre in integrated ICT materials, devices and systems. It is one of Ireland’s five National Labs, specialising in both electronics and photonics. The Photonics Packaging and Systems Integration Group at Tyndall addresses challenges in photonic and microelectronic technologies, from fundamental research to the transition to pilot-scale manufacturing with its unique technical expertise across a wide range of advanced photonic and microelectronic packaging and integration technologies.  

Recently, the Group at Tyndall, led by Professor Peter O’Brien, purchased a micro-optics 3D printer with submicron resolution from Vanguard Automation, in Germany. Professor O’Brien explains the significance of this equipment now being in operation at Tyndall, and the opportunities this provides through the IrelandQCI project, In the IrelandQCI project, we plan to develop more robust packaging solutions for cryogenic environments, which are essential for many low-noise quantum applications. Based on our prior expertise, we will also prepare training courses on photonic packaging, specifically for users of quantum technologies. Ultimately, we would like to combine these new courses with our well-established PhotonHub syllabus. To help us achieve these ambitious objectives, we are purchasing new packaging equipment. Figure 1 shows a recently purchased micro-optics 3D printer with submicron resolution from Vanguard Automation in Germany. The equipment will be used to develop novel low-loss optical interconnect solutions for quantum applications, which is a core technical focus in the project. Through IrelandQCI project, we are confident we can ensure Ireland plays a leading role in Europe to develop and exploit novel and exciting quantum engineering technologies.’

Figure: State-of-the-art micro-optics 3D printer with submicron resolution from Vanguard Automation has been installed and is now operational at the Tyndall Institute. The equipment has been funded under the IrelandQCI project. The photo shows Dr How Yuan Huang and Dr. Kamil Gradkowski, who are members of Tyndall’s Photonic Packaging & Systems Integration Group, which is led by Prof. Peter O’Brien.

The Photonics Packaging and Systems Integration Group

Photonics Packaging and Systems Integration Group develops advanced technologies to enable photonic and electronic chips to operate and communicate with their external environment. The process of packaging semiconductor chips typically costs significantly more than the cost of the chips themselves. Therefore, there are significant technical and engineering challenges to overcome in developing new materials, faster and more efficient assembly processes, precise automated equipment and standardised process design flows. However, our group not only develops the core technologies but we are also recognised as a leader in developing the ecosystem, ensuring synergy between chip designers, foundries, packaging providers and end-users.

The Group has a strong presence at international conferences and workshops, leading technology roadmaps and providing training courses for new researchers and companies entering the world of photonics and electronics. Regarding the core technologies, they develop solutions to assemble fibre optics and micro-optics with nanometre-scale precision aligned to the photonic chips. They also develop electrical solutions to enable photonic and electronic chips to communicate at extremely high speeds. This requires a large team of highly experienced researchers and advanced equipment in state-of-the-art cleanrooms. The Group’s unique expertise has resulted in leading equipment companies locating in the Tyndall labs, where they collaborate to optimise their machines based on Tyndall’s advanced packaging and integration processes. This includes placing experienced company engineers in the labs for the long term. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. This collaborative approach is an example to other leading researchers worldwide, showing how they can maximise their research impacts through close collaboration.

Professor O’Brien elaborates further on the importance of close collaboration, ‘The Photonics Packaging and Systems Integration Group is recognised as a world leader in developing novel photonic and electronic integration technologies. Much of this is achieved through close collaboration with other leading researchers worldwide. For example, we lead Europe’s Photonics Packaging Pilot Line (www.pixapp.eu) and the European Photonics Academy at PhotonHub Europe (www.photonhub.eu). In the Academy, we manage training and education activities for 50 of Europe’s leading research institutes and universities. We have also extended our research activities into the US, collaborating with leading universities including MIT, Columbia, Berkeley, Harvard and University of Arizona. We also collaborate with companies including Intel, Samsung, Boeing, Microsoft, Meta, Medtronic, Zeiss, and many SMEs. More recently, our unique expertise in advanced photonic and electronic packaging and integration technologies has enabled us to begin addressing unique challenges in building quantum systems. This has opened the door to many collaboration opportunities in Europe and the US. For example, we recently joined as a partner in the European Quantum Flagship project (www.qt.eu). Our unique approach is to develop standardised or baseline photonic and electronic assembly processes, which provides researchers with an easier path to develop their quantum applications. This unique approach bridges-the-gap between research and commercialisation, which is a key focus of our group.’

UCC’s Tyndall National Institute is a consortium partner of IrelandQCI. Read more about the members of the consortium here: https://irelandqci.ie/the-consortium/

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