Lots of Silicon Photonics
So my day two at FiO/LS had a general theme of silicon photonics. This looks like a very promising technology for photonic integrated circuits (PICs) and other integrated photonics, so it’s no wonder there were many talks on the topic. I found all of them very interesting and informative, and I learned a lot about the state-of-the-art, the different device manifestations, and the motivations and future prospects.
My day began with an outstanding tutorial by John Bowers on active silicon photonics and PICs. The reason silicon is such an important platform is manifold: silicon technology is well established due to the microprocessor industry, a silicon platform allows for easy integrating with CMOS technology, silica waveguides are extremely low loss, silicon has favorable thermal properties, etc. He discussed many of the different methods for creating lasers on a silicon platform, including Ge lasers, silicon nanostructures, quantum dots on silicon, and bonding. Prof. Bowers work centers on bonding, and so the majority of his talk discussed molecularly bonded III-V active materials (InP in particular) to silicon. In particular, he showed how many necessary photonic functionalities can be integrated onto a single silicon platform, including lasers, modulators, isolators, and detectors. He explained the important state-of-the-art, and the future challenges to be overcome to make a mature, commercial technology.
I also saw several other silicon photonics talks scattered throughout the day. These included talks on silicon modulators with extremely low Vpi*L, photonic crystal structures for slow light and other manipulations, ring resonators, non-linear optics in silicon, etc. It seems that for a compact photonics platform for both experimental physics and commercial devices, silicon is becoming the material of choice. It’s exciting to see where this field is going and how rapidly it’s progressing.
Along with all these silicon photonics talks, I additionally attended the Harnessing Light Town Hall Meeting. At this session, the panel members described how a recent report was generated in response to the need for a strategic vision for the photonics industry and research. One of the highlighted points was that cooperation and dialog between academia, industry, and government will be essential to stay at the forefront of optical research and manufacturing. In that vein, there was talk of a national photonics initiative, which would help create a vision for the photonics field so that appropriate resources are allocated and the right topics receive focus. All-in-all, my impression from attending the session was that the field has been surveyed and recommendations have been made (which are available in the report); in the near future, we should see an effort to have these recommendations put into effect. We can hopefully look forward to an intense dialog about where photonics is going and how to spend resources to foster its development.
That’s all I have for now. Need to get ready for the member reception tonight, which promises to be a fun time!
Disclaimer: Opinions, interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the United States Government and MIT Lincoln Laboratory.
Posted: 10/16/2012 6:33:42 PM by
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