Four years ago, the EU project PIX4life set out to mature an open access pilot line for silicon nitride integrated photonics, focused on life science applications. The synergies of industrial and academic project partners enabled the creation and validation of a unique pilot line using carefully selected demonstrator projects. Simultaneously, the software infrastructure (process design kits, design tools and building blocks) needed to enable early access of the pilot line through multi-project wafer (MPW) fabrication runs was created. After ten MPW fabrication runs in last three years at two foundries, and successful realization of dozens of designs from the project partners and the external customers, the pilot line is fully operational and ready for open access. In this presentation, we intend to share the experiences we have gained in setting up the pilot line, and to discuss the opportunities and challenges we can expect in future.
Photonics has become critical to life sciences. However, the field is far from benefiting fully from photonics' capabilities. Today, bulky and expensive optical systems dominate biomedical photonics, even though robust optical functionality can be realized cost-effectively on single photonic integrated circuits (PICs). Such chips are commercially available mostly for telecom applications, and at infrared wavelengths. Although proof-of-concept demonstrations for PICs in life sciences, using visible wavelengths are abundant, the gating factor for wider adoption is limited in resource capacity. Two European pilot lines, PIX4life and PIXAPP, were established to facilitate European R and D in biophotonics, by helping European companies and universities bridge the gap between research and industrial development. Through creation of an open-access model, PIX4life aims to lower barriers to entry for prototyping and validating biophotonics concepts for larger scale production. In addition, PIXAPP enables the assembly and packaging of photonic integrated circuits.
In this paper, we present an original concept of plasmonic-related instrumentation platform dedicated to diagnostic biosensing tests out of the laboratory. The developed instrumental platform includes both disposable one-use microfluidic affinity biochip and compact optical readout device for biochip monitoring involving mobile Internet devices for data processing and communication. The biochip includes both microfluidic and optical coupling structures formed into a single plastic slab. The microfluidic path of the biochip operates in passive capillary pumping mode. In the proof-of-concept prototype, we address specifically the sensing format involving Surface Plasmon Resonance phenomenon. The biochip is plugged in the readout device without the use of an index matching fluid. An essential advantage of the developed biochip is that its implementation involves conventional hot embossing and thin film deposition process, perfectly suited for mass production of low-cost microfluidic biochip for biochemical applications.