Technologies that advance photonics micro-assembly

Capabilities

Capabilities that set us apart

The technologies available to ficonTEC and implemented in the different machines and sub-modules translate into a broad and established array of production capabilities specifically geared to provide the most efficient route to photonics device micro-assembly and test.

Working closely with our customers, the required capabilities are determined, and whenever possible we take an active role in helping the customer adopt these capabilities fully. We assist in evaluating existing processes and methods, optimizing and developing innovative processes right through to their implementation, resulting in optimization of the assembly processes and thus achieving maximum production efficiency.

The finished machines are then all supplied as turn-key systems, with all hardware and automation functions controlled by ficonTEC’s flexible, modular and easy-to-use ProcessControlMaster application software.

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This level of service and customer support makes ficonTEC the ideal partner for achieving success in a wide range of applications for photonics assembly and test solutions

Passive & active alignment

The required alignment accuracy defines whether passive
or active approaches are utilized in the assembly process

Passive alignment relies on advanced machine vision algorithms to detect geometric feature coordinates in space. These are then sent to the motion control system for accurate positioning. The camera image space (pixels) is carefully calibrated to the actual motion space, up to the diffraction limit of the optical system.

Active alignment is used when submicron accuracy is required, and can be seen as a further step after passive alignment. It is based on the actual detection of coupled optical power by correlating thousands of optical power measurements with their actual positioning in motion space. Nanometer-scale resolution can be achieved with piezo-driven stages. Search trajectories are pre-programmed in the motion control firmware.

Several aspects of optical component alignment are key to efficient micro-assembly procedures:

  • efficient pre-alignment routines save time and improve yield,
  • machine vision minimizes active alignment search areas,
  • automatic active alignment is possible regardless of the optical beam property, e.g. divergence, absolute optical power, spectrum, degree of polarization, splitting ratio, etc.,
  • ‘active tracking’ measurements and monitoring of the relevant parameters during the bonding process, together with any necessary positional correction of the optical elements, ensures minimal post-bond shift.

Typical applications that require passive and active alignment steps include:

  • fiber pig-tailing for edge-planar waveguide coupling,
  • single and arrayed fiber pig-tailing for top-grating couplers,
  • fiber-optic cable assembly,
  • laser bar stacking and alignment of collimating micro-optics,
  • compact camera module assembly,

… and many other opto-electronic alignment tasks.

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Sub-µm multi-DOF with Pivot Point Positioning

High-end stages combined with state-of-the-art real-time
motion controllers guarantee easy and accurate positioning

The AutoAlign series is ficonTEC’s range of multi-axis positioning systems, with varying degrees of translational and rotational freedom. Advanced interpolation firmware enables both fast active alignment and the concept of a ‘pivot point’, the latter defining a specific reference point in space for a given component, rather than specifying single-axis coordinates.

This series of positioning modules form an important core element of our automated assembly machines, providing high-precision positioning versatility, reliable and reproducible alignment as well as in-line process pick-&-place capability.

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Some applications require an emphasis on translational positioning, other rotational, so in every case the appropriate choice can be made to best suit the application. Wherever an exceptional placement or moving precision is required, the AutoAlign systems are the motion systems of choice.

Scalability

Starting with a 3-axis configuration, the AutoAlign systems can easily be scaled up to machines with 16 and more degrees of motion.

Process Optimization

Powerful software platform provides process tuning
and sequencing in a user-friendly GUI

ficonTEC has consistently retained a unique modular approach to its machine design. Flexible and scalable options already enable customized assembly and test solutions suitable for early device development, for new product introduction, and all the way up to high-volume production facilities. However, as volume requirements increase, at the same time with lower target cost/part and higher yield, the assembly process must be performed fully automatically with as little operator intervention as possible.

To achieve this goal, all ficonTEC machines are shipped as turn-key systems that feature a ready-to-use, fully-flexible application software and control interface. The ProcessControlMaster software features an intuitive machine/process GUI, includes powerful machine vision and alignment routines, and is already enabled for full assembly and testing automation.

Key features:

  • User-friendly graphical interface
  • Fully configurable assembly and testing processes
  • Advanced editable process sequencing
  • Recipe-based management of process parameters
  • Pre-loaded with algorithms for machine vision and passive / active assembly
  • SW drivers for direct interfacing to a wide range of instrumentation
  • Component tracking from input/output trays and wafers
  • Flexible data import and export for process/yield monitoring
  • SQL database storage of process parameters and component data
  • Remote service and software upgrades via internet
  • System-wide implementation across all machines, providing consistent look and feel
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Working with the Customer

By collaborating closely on the specific manufacturing steps,
the process sequence and cycle time can be optimized

ficonTEC can also help customers with their process optimization. By working closely with the customer and understanding his/her needs properly, we can lever our own extensive experience together with our combined technical expertise to assist in the production process design.

This is of particular importance in translating manual assembly and testing protocols during the migration from prototyping / low volume to full mass production.

Technical feasibility, process analysis and tolerance assessment are just some of the critical aspects in defining a micro-assembly manufacturing process. In addition, any need for custom development for particular production steps has to be added to the mix, as does any desired degree of scalability from low- to high-volume manufacture.

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A correctly designed production strategy helps fully utilize the capabilities of the ficonTEC machine design and thus increase efficiency and yield, as well as lower cost/part.

Automated Optical Inspection

Advance machine vision for the visual inspection of coatings,
chip facets and side walls, defect recognition, and much more

No complex assembly process is complete without the ability to inspect and characterize the many different components used. Facet inspection of laser diodes, QC for coatings, surface inspection, and side-wall inspection of semiconductor chips are just some of the many inspection tasks performed routinely by ficonTEC’s suite of inspection tools.

ficonTEC’s fully automated InspectionLine acquires high-resolution pictures of the surfaces of interest and performs optical inspection based on the user’s criteria. A top and bottom side inspection module can be added to this system as well as different material feeding philosophies.