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Evaluation of radiation sensitivity of Photonics Integrated Circuits (PICs) technology



Organisational Unit
Activity Type
Implementation progress
10 November 2021

Duration: 12 months


Photonic integrated circuit (PIC) is a promising technology that allows integrating multiple photonic functions required in a given equipment in a single chip. For spaceborne systems this will allow a considerable SWAP and cost reduction. The main advantage of PICs derives from the reduction of optical coupling losses (between what otherwise would be fibre pigtailed components), as well as an overall improvement of the reliability as the number of optical connections and packaging can be drastically reduced. Many systems would not be feasible without PIC technology. ESA has been supporting technological development of PICs through numerous projects, and as a consequence the performance of PIC-based systems has greatly improved. This project will focus on qualification of PICs for space environment, which needs to be progressed to expedite adoption of PICs for space applications. The project is well aligned with ESA CTB Component Roadmaps 2020 which identified PICs technology validation as P1 priority.   In the frame of this study, COTS PICs will be procured from one European SiN based PIC manufacturer and submitted to radiations environment. The design shall be simple enough to permit analyzing the degradation mechanisms that may occur and relate them to the different functions/design. Several PIC basic functions (building blocks) shall be addressed, such as MMI coupler/splitter, ring resonator filter and phase modulator. The main objective is to assess if specific challenges related to radiation sensitivity exist for the use of this promising technology in space environment, whose range of potential applications is very large, from scientific and earth observation to laser coms or microwave photonics payloads. This assessment shall be ultimately pursuing the improvement of our current radiation hardness assurance in regards of photonic devices.

Contract number
OSIP Idea Id
Related OSIP Campaign
COTS Campaign
Lionix International B.V.
Main application area
Generic for multiple space applications
Topical cluster
Evaluation of radiation sensitivity of Photonics Integrated Circuits (PICs) technology - New ideas for the use of Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) components -Study