Original Date: 01/27/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Optoelectronics Manufacturing
The optoelectronics area of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) pursues low-cost, high-precision passive coupling of optical fibers to optoelectronic devices, the automation of the fiber pigtailing process, and the computer aided design of optoelectronic devices to reduce fabrication development costs. For many devices, the packaging costs, such as the attachment of sub-micron fiber optic pigtails, represent 90% of the component cost. The less expensive passive alignment techniques achieve 0.6 to 1 micrometer accuracy while the more expensive active alignment techniques can achieve less than 0.1 micrometer accuracy. LLNL has completed much work to improve passive alignment techniques. One unique method, developed by the Laboratory, is the silicon micro-bench alignment tool with built-in solder reflow heaters which won the 1996 R&D100 Award.
Techniques were also developed to improve the cost of the active alignment techniques, which are usually performed by skilled labor. In this area, LLNL has completed work in automating alignment and bonding portions of the pigtailing process through the application of machine visioning techniques to aid rapid course alignment; fine positioning optic terminations; attachment of adhesives, solder, and welding; and strain relief and encapsulation. Three automated fiber pigtailing machines have been built using modular design techniques to enable easy upgrades as technological improvements continue to be developed. The equipment features sub-micron alignment, provides active alignment using machine vision, and is user-friendly. Two systems have been delivered to LLNL’s partners in the project.
LLNL has also applied its unique capabilities of using computer simulations to the design of optoelectronic devices. The ability to develop device concepts on the computer minimizes fabrication cycles and leads to higher- performance and lower-cost devices. This is particularly true for optoelectronic components that are very specialized and experience small markets. LLNL has developed the Multi-scale ElectroDynamics (MELD) simulation software for integrating different length-scale methods in a single design tool. MELD and other LLNL- developed simulation methods have produced the integrated simulation package techniques required for accurate design capability.
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