Future shines bright for European photonics industry

SEMI met with Dr. Jose Pozo, director of Technology and Innovation at EPIC (European Photonics Industry Consortium), to discuss how 3D packaging applications and heterogeneous integration trends are shaping the European technology landscape. The two spoke ahead of his presentation at the 3D & Systems Summit, 28-30 January, 2019, in Dresden, Germany. To register for the event, please click here.

SEMI: What is the EPIC mission and vision?

Pozo: EPIC is an industry association with 418 corporate members that promotes the sustainable development of organisations working in the field of photonics in Europe. Our main goal is to increase the growth of photonics companies. To do so, we organize around 30 business-to-business events every year and provide market reports to our members.

SEMI: Who are EPIC members and what is your role within the association?

Pozo: Our members encompass the entire value chain, from LED lighting, photovoltaic solar energy, photonics integrated circuits and optical components to lasers, sensors, imaging, displays, projectors, optic fiber, and other photonic-related technologies. In my role as CTO, I like to describe myself as the “Geek” of photonics. Thanks to my technical understanding of the industry, I constantly travel and visit our members to understand their needs, which are very specific to their businesses. Ruring 2018, EPIC visited 142 companies. My role is to understand the industry trends and provide what I call “constant access to network” and market intelligence.

SEMI: What particularly exciting initiative are you driving?

Pozo: The interconnection with the European Commission is playing a big role for us, and we are currently cooperating with the European Commission to enable manufacturing of photonics in Europe. We have been working with our members to identify themes that hold the greatest interest with the European Commission. The Commission has funding available for the development of technologies it believes will enhance the European manufacturing landscape – the so called “Pilot Lines” – and enhance our everyday lives.

SEMI: Which pilot lines are of the greatest interest?

Pozo: There are three main directions for improvement:

  • Reduce costs
  • Enable the manufacturing of new photonic technologies in Europe, such as novel concepts for additive manufacturing, silicon photonics, freeform optics and biosensors
  • Enable volume production

One example of an EU-funded pilot line is “MIRPHAB,” which focuses on Mid-IR sensor manufacturing. Another, PIXAPP, enables the volume production of packaged Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs) for established industries such as chemicals, telecommunications and medical.

SEMI: Your 3D & Systems Summit presentation will focus on European demand of new laser systems and processes, application markets and innovative laser technologies. What’s the future of these technologies?

Pozo: Europe should focus on networking because connectivity will help Europe become a leader in manufacturing. The constant development of laser material processing leads to process improvements for modifying materials at the sub-microscale level such as cutting, engraving, drilling and welding. At the core of laser is the so-called beam shape (or beam converter), an optical device that reshapes a light beam. Today, technological innovations based on laser materials processing enable the development of several applications that involve a precise control of the shape, power, and dynamics of the light beam.

SEMI: You have mentioned numerous company visits with industry leaders and experts. What did they say? Where is Europe going?

Pozo: Every company is a unique universe. Every company is so different. Two companies might belong to photonics and still develop different products and technologies – lasers can be the size of building or of a human hair! But there are some aspects of photonics that are much broader in scope. Take the automotive industry. The autonomous car of the future will be driven by photonics and lighting. How often do we hear about LiDAR? While automotive is a key markets for photonics, the technology is also important in driving advances in areas such as “environmental monitoring” and even “urban landscaping.”

SEMI: What are some key trends in photonics?

Pozo: One important trend is that high-powered lasers are required more and more in manufacturing. We are moving from 3 KW to 15 KW lasers, and many companies are now working hard to noto only increase power but to control the laser beam shape.

Another key trend is that MedTech is enabling early stage cancer diagnosis and reducing the number of related deaths, though there is so much room for improvement here!

A third trend is the rising adoption AR/VR solutions in gaming, medical, communication, transportation and many other industries as the technologies mature.

Photonics is also being used more in imaging cameras, microscopy, photography, SMART lighting and lasers and in antibacterial environments.

Come to Dresden to learn more and discuss trends during a coffee break!

SEMI: What are your expectations for 2019 3D & Systems Summit in Dresden, and why do you recommend your members and other industry leaders to attend?

Pozo: Laser-based manufacturing companies in the semiconductor industry should attend the summit. A wide variety of laser technologies that enable the development of innovative semiconductor manufacturing processes is available today. According to Yole Développement (Yole), the laser equipment market will grow at a 15 percent CAGR between 2016 and 2022 and should reach more than US$4 billion by 2022. Those figures are showing the massive adoption of laser technologies for semiconductor manufacturing processes.

Serena Brischetto is a marketing and communications manager at SEMI Europe.

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