Fast and Precise Active Alignment for Testing, Assembly, and Packaging in Numerous Photonics Applications

Light is an exceptionally versatile and efficient carrier of information. In order to fully use this potential, it is crucial to exactly align the individual elements for producing and detecting light (e.g., lasers and photodiodes) as well as light-carrying and light-modulating elements such as glass fibers, lenses, or prisms. This plays a decisive role both in the quality assurance of individual elements and in the test and packaging of components and (sub)systems.

For customers and users in the photonics market segment, PI offers an extensive portfolio of solutions for alignment. The focus is on motion and positioning systems as well as intelligent algorithms with which glass fibers can be coupled to silicon photonic chips, for example, or laser beams for free-space communication can be aligned and stabilized. PI develops solutions for production and quality assurance also for numerous other application areas such as quantum photonics or the design and alignment of optical systems made of lenses, prisms, plates, etc..

PI's strategy defines the algorithm-controlled, active alignment as an enabling technology. The mechanics being used, make active positioning in six degrees of freedom possible. Algorithms such as the search for first light and the parallel gradient search lead to accuracies in the submicrometer range and velocities that are suitable for series production. Both in test and packaging and for use in series control.

Positioning systems from PI have been successfully employed in silicon photonics for many years already. Be it in quality assurance of optical elements on wafer or chip level, or in test and packaging of photonic integrated circuits (PIC).

Tip/tilt beam stabilizing systems, based on parallel-kinematic piezo drives or magnetic direct drives, are a proven technology in many applications - even being used in the PHI Instrument (Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager) of the Solar Orbiter. This technology has great potential in optical free-space communication - terrestrial as well as satellite-based - for communication networks spanning across the entire world.