Mechatronics for photonics assembly and testing

Flexible, highly modular and fully-integrated
mechatronic technology controlled by a powerful software tool

Today, photonic devices for high-tech applications are becoming increasingly complex. Ever larger numbers of optical elements with diverse photonic properties must be integrated into ever smaller packages.

ficonTEC machines fulfill the definition of state-of-the art mechatronic systems, encompassing fully-integrated advanced mechanical motion/positioning elements, electronic and optical instrumentation, and all orchestrated with a powerful software tool.

With the accumulated experience of an installed base of many hundreds of machines, continued machine development has led to several well-established, highly-modular and fully-integration-capable product lines. The result is ever higher levels of performance and reproducibility, and thus higher yield and lower cost/part for the very devices our machines are designed to assemble.

These continuous developments also enable us stay ahead of the rapidly changing customer manufacturing needs in photonic component assembly.


Multi-DOF precision positioning and alignment

Cutting-edge positioning systems coupled with machine vision
ensure flexibility and reliable high-precision alignment


Accurate, repeatable and reliable positioning of tiny components over millions of cycles is one of the main considerations in the design of our machines. The best mechanical motion stages on the market are complemented with proprietary components to couple precision with industrial-grade robustness. Conventional stacks of linear translation stages and goniometers, hexapod-like 6-DOF (degrees of freedom) devices, long-travel gantries, as well as SCARA and anthropomorphic robots are routinely integrated in our machines.

State-of-the-art real-time controllers ensure fast positioning interpolation for multi-axis systems with advanced functionalities such as pivot-point-based motion space and fast active alignment.

Multiple camera systems and advanced machine vision algorithms are seamlessly interfaced to motion control to provide guidance, pre-alignment, and other advanced functionalities. The motion-space and vision-space are correlated via automated geometric calibration procedures.

Last but not least, all hardware functions are controlled by ficonTEC’s flexible, modular and easy-to-use process programming software, Process Control Master.


Dual fiber array positioning over waveguides (on-wafer)

Bonding in Place

Several bonding technologies are available
that ensure reliable performance and long component lifetime

The various bonding approaches – UV and/or thermal-curing epoxy, laser welding, brazing, soldering and reflow processes as well as laser-induced soldering – are extremely critical procedures during micro-assembly. Typical applications include laser diode chip and laser bar bonding, as well as the bonding of photodiodes, micro-optical elements and lenses, optical fibers, LEDs, etc. onto a substrate, a submount, or even onto a full photonics wafer.

An automated approach for the selected type of bonding must provide absolute control over the process, and must thus accomplish several tasks and goals:

  • accurate dispensing of different viscosity adhesives for epoxy bonding
    • accurate pre-alignment re-positioning following dispensing
    • properly distributed/timed UV flashing
  • accurate guiding and focusing of laser beams for laser welding
  • controlled thermal cycles / thermal distribution for soldering and laser-induced soldering

ficonTEC provides several well-established die bonder systems for many photonics micro-assembly tasks, including opto-electronic flip-chip assembly






UV epoxy bonding

Combining Optical & Electrical Testing

Our testing equipment is focused on automated testing and characterization of photonic devices from single chips through to wafer level

Some form of testing at ‘single die’ or at ‘packaged device’ level has often been included on ficonTEC manufacturing equipment as a necessary step within an assembly process. As volumes in photonics manufacturing increase, highly-automated testing machines have gained their own space.

We are also seeing a clear trend toward full wafer-level photonics testing. In the semiconductor world, wafer-level testing with probe cards holding several thousand pins are common, with typical contact pads of 80 x 80 µm2. Optical probing, however, requires much higher positional accuracies – in the submicron range – utilizing either vertically accessible grating couplers or edge coupling (the latter presenting much more of a challenge at wafer level).

As both electrical and optical probing is needed to test photonic devices, some kind of integrated approach is needed, pushing us to the development of combined electro-optical probe heads served by modular high-channel-count instrumentation. Common tests include optical power insertion losses, spectral measurements, electrical/optical bandwidth, temperature dependence measurements, and many more. As the number of optical channels for simultaneous testing increases, more demands will be put on modular instrumentation, including tunable laser sources, multi-channel power meters, optical switches, etc.


Testing protocols and automated testing sequences can again benefit from our configurable Process Control Master software, with direct interfacing of process tracking data to an SQL database, thus providing the user with access to statistical analysis of the data, for example as a tool for improving production yield.

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