The packaging of photonic devices remains a hindering challenge to the deployment of integrated photonic modules. This is never as true as for silicon photonic modules where the cost efficiency and scalability of chip fabrication in microelectronic production facilities is far ahead of current photonic packaging technology. More often than not, photonic modules are still packaged today with legacy manual processes and high-precision active alignment. Automation of these manual processes can provide gains in yield and scalability. Thus, specialized automated equipment has been developed for photonic packaging, is now commercially available, and is providing an incremental improvement in cost and scalability. However, to bring the cost and scalability of photonic packaging on par with silicon chip fabrication, we feel a more disruptive approach is required. Hence, in recent years, we have developed photonic packaging in standard, highthroughput microelectronic packaging facilities. This approach relies on the concepts already responsible for the attractiveness of silicon photonic chip fabrication: (1) moving complexity from die-level packaging processes to waferlevel planar fabrication, and (2) leveraging the scale of existing microelectronic facilities for photonic fabrication. We have demonstrated such direction with peak coupling performance of 1.3 dB from standard cleaved fiber to chip and 1.1 dB from chip to chip.
The impact of integrated photonics on optical interconnects is currently muted by challenges in photonic packaging and in the dense integration of photonic modules with microelectronic components on printed circuit boards. Single mode optics requires tight alignment tolerance for optical coupling and maintaining this alignment in a cost-efficient package can be challenging during thermal excursions arising from downstream microelectronic assembly processes. In addition, the form factor of typical fiber connectors is incompatible with the dense module integration expected on printed circuit boards. We have implemented novel approaches to interfacing photonic chips to standard optical fibers. These leverage standard high throughput microelectronic assembly tooling and self-alignment techniques resulting in photonic packaging that is scalable in manufacturing volume and in the number of optical IOs per chip. In addition, using dense optical fiber connectors with space-efficient latching of fiber patch cables results in compact module size and efficient board integration, bringing the optics closer to the logic chip to alleviate bandwidth bottlenecks. This packaging direction is also well suited for embedding optics in multi-chip modules, including both photonic and microelectronic chips. We discuss the challenges and rewards in this type of configuration such as thermal management and signal integrity.