Rapid Photonics: ‘By using NanoLabNL voucher, we were able to secure follow-up funding’

Team Rapid Photonics

Rapid Photonics is a startup of the VU University of Amsterdam and has its office and production facility at the Science Park Amsterdam. The facilities of Amolf Nanolab were essential in the company’s early development stages.

Using the NanoLabNL voucher was crucial for taking Rapid Photonics start-up company to the next level, Nascent Ventures Director Steven Tan states. ‘It allowed us to perform high risk-bearing experiments,’ he says. ‘We were really pushing the limits of state-of-art technology and science. Only after these pilot projects we were able to secure our follow-up funding.’


Thin film Lithium Niobate (LN) is at the core of Rapid Photonics, as active on Photonic Integrated Circuits (PIC’s). LN is a widely recognized high-potential next generation PIC material, due to its unique material properties, replacing Si and InP in ultra-high speed datacom, and enabling new applications in quantum computing and AI.

Long lead times and high costs that are customary in PIC development – leading to unfeasible business cases – are seriously challenged by Rapid Photonics’ DEpicT® technology. This Direct Etch-less photonic integrated circuits Technology delivers low-loss waveguides in LNOI with high yield and short lead times at affordable cost. This technology is 100% CMOS compatible, facilitating seamless scale up of PIC production in conventional Si PIC foundries.

‘We have our own prototype fabrication capacity, and we collaborate with selected partners for volume production, electrical and optical integration, packaging and testing,’ Steven Tan says. ‘In further developing and securing our strategic knowledge and production base, the know-how and collaboration with VU Amsterdam is essential for the years to come. We therefore have carefully agreed a knowhow license with the University and the Amolf Nanolab whose facilities, from now on, we use for prototype fabrication at a commercial rate.’


Especially the e-beam writer will be of strategic use. Using electron-beam lithography (EBL) as a patterning method for product development structures, enables mask-less fabrication. A resist layer is directly patterned by scanning with an electron beam electronically. DEpicT does not require the etching of Lithium Niobate, a process that is notoriously challenging and demanding. Instead, it uses conventional easy-to-etch PIC materials.

Steven Tan: ‘We will continue to make affordable prototypes with increasingly shorter lead times. Complex photonic structures, integrated circuits and products are already being made for researchers all over the world now, facing the same production problems as we did in photonics research. As the reproducibility of a range of photonic components and technical specifications is meeting commercial standards more and more, renowned companies now show serious interest. In Artificial Intelligence, Lidar, quantum computing, quantum communication and optical communication, high-end photonics will play a major role in the middle-term future. Our technology and fabrication skills are of prime value here.’

Five labs

At NanoLabNL, five lab facility centres are affiliated. Tan stresses the importance of this collaboration and sharing of facilities and expertise. ‘We don’t want to be dependent on Amolf facilities alone,’ he says. ‘For example, the lab is now going to be renovated. Without being able to collaborate with Kavli Nanolab Delft we would now be out of business for a long time.

‘Also, the MESA+ Nanolab at the University of Twente would be a good partner in the future. We are going to investigate new ways to collaborate. We already have good long-term working relationships on fabricating SiN wafers, which is one of the specialities in Twente. So, we know to find them already.’

Rapid Photonics
Nano technology facilities and laboratories in The Netherlands | NanoLabNL
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