Purpose - To introduce the Innovative Electronics Manufacturing Research Centre Flagship Project: Integrated Optical and Electronic Interconnect PCB Manufacturing, its objectives, its consortium of three universities and ten companies and to describe the university research being carried out. This paper briefly reviews the motivation for developing novel polymer formulations, fabrication techniques, layout design rules and characterisation techniques for hybrid electronic and optical printed circuit boards (PCBs) using multimode polymer optical waveguide interconnects. Design/methodology/approach - The authors are investigating a number of different fabrication techniques which they compare with each other and with modelled calculations of waveguide components. The fabrication techniques include photolithography, laser ablation, direct laser writing, embossing, extrusion and ink jet printing. Findings - A numberof design rules for polymer multimode waveguides have been found and published. Techniques for ink jetting polymer to print waveguides and laser ablation techniques have been developed. New formulations of polymer which cure faster for direct writing have also been developed. Research limitations/implications - Further work is needed to thicken the ink jet printed polymer and to investigate side wall roughness of the ablated waveguides and development of new polymer formulations for dry film. Further research is also needed on construction of prototype system demonstrators. Practical implications - The fabrication techniques being developed are designed to be transferred to industrial PCB manufacturers to enable them to make higher value optical PCBs. The design rules being discovered are being entered into commercial PCB layout software to aid designers of optical PCBs. Originality/value - The paper is of interestto PCB manufacturers who wish to upgrade their processes to be able to manufacture optical PCBs. The university research is original and some has been published as shown in the publications in the reference list.
- Printed circuits