A new way to build optical components

Startup Xponent Photonics demonstrated its new Surface Mount Photonics technology this week at the Optical Fiber Communications Conference in Atlanta.

Xponent Photonics demonstrated its new Surface Mount Photonics (SMP) technology this week at the Optical Fibre Communications Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The company claims that the new technology dramatically reduces the cost, footprint and complexity of single-mode fibre optic components.

‘Surface Mount Photonics solves the core problems of optical component packaging by reducing complexity,’ said Jeff Rittichier, Xponent’s President and CEO. ‘With Surface Mount Photonics, we’ve reduced the number of subcomponents, completely eliminated hermetic packages and simplified assembly to the point where it can be easily outsourced to contract manufacturers.’

Xponent has solved three of the costliest problems in optical component packaging: how to efficiently couple multiple die using high-speed, passive assembly, the elimination of hermetic packages, and the ability to perform test and burn-in at the wafer level.

Surface Mount Photonics replaces nearly all of the optical subcomponents in a typical package with surface mount converters. These structures are added to standard devices, such as edge emitting lasers, at the wafer level thousands at a time. Surface mount converters function like ‘optical wire,’ enabling efficient optical power transfer between SMP chips when they are bonded together.

These converters also make it possible to tap light out of active devices at the wafer level in order to identify failed parts before they are separated and needlessly assembled onto submounts. Additionally, because the optical train is fully enclosed within the assembled chipset, standard encapsulation materials and techniques can be used in place of hermetic packages.

Xponent demonstrated its SMP capability for the first time at OFC by showing a 2x5mm 1310 nm SMP fibre-coupled laser operating underwater without a hermetic package.

Initial Xponent products include transmit optical sub-assemblies (TOSA) and fibre-ready PIN diode assemblies for 1310 nm single-mode applications including SONET, Fiber Channel and Gigabit Ethernet.

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