Photonic Integrated Circuits (PIC) will change the fundamental paradigms for the design of multi-color laser engines for life sciences. Exemplified with flow cytometry (FCM), integrated optical technology for visible wavelengths will be shown to open a new spectrum of possibilities to control flow cell illumination patterns, such as the number of output spots, the spot size, and even complex patterns generated by interferometry. Integration of additional optical functions such as variable optical attenuation, wavelength division multiplexing or fast shutters adds value to the PIC. TOPTICA is demonstrating integration of PICs in present Multi-color Laser Engine (MLE) architectures. Multiple wavelengths (405nm, 488nm, 561nm, 640nm) are coupled free space into the chip, leveraging its beam steering COOLAC (Constant Optical Output Level Auto Calibration) technology for automatic realignment, thus overcoming the need of fiber input delivery. Once in the waveguide, the light can be redirected and shaped to a desired output pattern and pitch, reducing the need of discrete optical components. In this work, we will discuss the implementation of various building blocks in PIC technology for MLEs and analyze the advantages over current macroscopic counterparts.
Photonic technology is increasingly used in applications in medicine, life and environmental science. Whereas currently many of these applications are implemented using some form of discrete (free-space) optics, much can be gained from a transition to Photonics Integrated Circuits. This follows the trends in the electronics industry where highly integrated electronic circuits have allowed the combination of many different functions in a small form factor. Just as it has done for the electronics industry, integrated optics will lead to smaller, cheaper, more reliable and more user friendly devices.