Automated Probe Station

Silicon Photonics Automated Probe station


The MIP variant for Si-photonic hardware in the loop bridges the gap between algorithmic/architectural exploration and stimulus, and measurement of photonic hardware in the loop of a prototype microsystem. It presents a modular, desktop environment for Si-photonic chip prototyping in a system context.

The platform integrates a PXIe-based control system which includes a system-level design environment, data acquisition, FPGA based signal/control processing, and power supplies, with generic optical source and detection modules and a feedback-controlled optical fibre alignment system.

Key Platform Benefits

  • Accelerates research by providing a feature-rich platform for integration and validating of Si-photonic-based microsystems.
  • Addresses specific research needs through a graphics-based programmable environment and hardware enabling integration of Si-photonic hardware in the loop.
  • Enables a faster path to commercialization by sourcing commercial-grade components and through compliance with commercial standards and interfaces (e.g., PXI and PXIe). 


A block diagram and photos of this prototype MIP variant are shown below. The photo at the right shows a fibre array aligned to Si-photonic device, with an inset of the resonator transmission spectrum measured using the MIP coupled to an Agilent 81600B tunable source.


Block Diagram

Prototype Photo

Aligned with Fibre Array


Possible research applications include control of Si-photonic-based ring resonators and sensors for biomedical applications, and Micro-Opto-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MOEMS) such as optical gyroscopes or accelerometers, under real-time feedback control.


  • PXI-express base, which includes:
    • System controller, standard and real time operating systems
    • PXIe expansion card slots, including high-end FPGA-based DAQ, high-resolution digitizer, waveform generator, and programmable power supply 
    • Program environment: LabVIEW, C/C++


NI PXI Express Chassis

  • The PXI system hub is complemented with instruments enabling incorporation of Si-photonic hardware in the loop:
    • Custom Micronix motion control stage optimized for automated optical coupling to Si-photonic surface grating arrays:
      • 100-mm in-plane axis (X, Y) travel, with 50-nm precision. Maximum speed: 5 mm/s
      • Typical sample loading time: less than 15 minutes, including carrier flatness/angle adjustments and 2 minutes alignment
      • Viewing optics to aid in optical alignment
      • PLC Connections 8 PM fibre bundle to interface to Si-photonic chip surface gratings
    • Agilent N7711A-210 tunable laser, controlled via USB by the MIP PXI-based controller:
      • +15 dBm output
      • 100 kHz linewidth over 1527.60 nm to 1565.50 nm tuning range
    • Agilent N7744A multiport optical power meter, USB interface:
      • Four InGaAs sensor ports with 1250 to 1650 nm wavelength range
    • Temperature controller with up to 0.001°C stability




    • Video describing the probe station:



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