Designing photonic circuits or assembling lego blocks?

Photonic integrated circuits are made out of photonic components such as lasers, photodetectors, modulators, and so on. Designing a complete photonic chip generally requires extensive expertise on principles and functionality of each of those components. In order to provide a less complicated way of designing complex circuits, the photonics industry adopts the “building block” approach. The building blocks are photonic circuit components, which are previously designed, tested, and offered by designers and/or foundries in order to provide specific functionalities. Third-party designers can construct complex integrated photonic systems by making use of these building blocks in a fast and reliable manner. Intricate photonic circuits can be constructed by combining such building block in proper ways, just like putting lego blocks together! This makes photonics technology accessible, and photonic circuit design much easier for a much larger audience.

Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology and Smart Photonics are developing quantum-grade photonic building blocks in the course of the UNIQORN project. With those building blocks, they are building receiver and transmitter chips for different quantum communication protocols.