imec engineers bio-compatible silicon photonics sensors

January 27, 2012 — Genalyte developed and produced a set of disposable silicon photonics biosensor chips with research body imec, for use in its diagnostic and molecular detection equipment. The chips use imec’s standard silicon photonic waveguide devices, modified for bio-compatibility.

These chips allow for high levels of multiplexed biosensing due to the high integration level of Si photonics.

A bio-compatible passivation technology was developed on 200mm wafers with high yields. The chips contain up to 128 proprietary ring resonator sensors coated by Genalyte with application-specific chemistry to create very sensitive molecular detection capability. On-chip grating couplers are used to couple the infrared light from and to Genalyte’s diagnostic equipment. The chips were tested in the field.

More Si photonics work at imec:

Imec’s silicon photonics platform densely integrates photonics and electronics, manufactured on standard microelectronic CMOS manufacturing processes. The high quality and reproducibility of the photonic waveguides and devices with features measuring 100-500nm requiring nm-scale accuracy are the keys to high yield. Genalyte first made a proof-of-concept using Multi-Project Wafers access to imec’s Silicon Photonics technology under ePIXfab (

The Si-photonics biosensor chips were made as part of imec’s silicon photonics CMORE service. Via this initiative, imec offers companies all the services needed to turn innovative ideas into smart packaged microsystem products. The CMORE toolbox includes 200mm CMOS, Si-photonics, MEMS, image sensors and device packaging. Services also cover design, testing and reliability, bringing products from feasibility studies to design, technology development, prototyping and low-volume manufacturing. Imec also is able to guide companies in tranferring to volume production at a foundry.
Imec performs world-leading research in nanoelectronics. Imec’s research activities in the field of silicon photonics are coordinated closely with those at Ghent University. The Photonics Research Group in the Department of Information Technology of Ghent University has been active in photonic integration for more than 20 years. Since 2000 the focus has shifted to silicon photonics. Further information on imec can be found at

Genalyte Inc. is a privately held company focused on improving the costs and performance of diagnostic and life sciences molecular testing.  To this end, Genalyte has developed a next-generation molecular detection capable of higher levels of multiplexing, high sensitivity and faster time-to-result directly from clinical samples. Learn more at

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