Fabricating Silicon Chips With Integrated Photonics
Moving precision communication, metrology, quantum applications from lab to chip
Excerpts and salient points ~
+ The field of photonic integration — the area of photonics in which waveguides and devices are fabricated as an integrated system onto a flat wafer — is relatively young compared to electronics. Photonic integration has focused on communications applications traditionally fabricated on silicon chips, because these are less expensive and more easily manufactured.
“Now that the silicon market has been addressed for telecommunications and LIDAR applications, we are exploring new materials that support an exciting variety of new applications at wavelengths not accessible to silicon waveguides,” said Blumenthal. “We found the most promising waveguide platforms to be silicon nitride, tantala (tantalum pentoxide), aluminum nitride and alumina (aluminum oxide).”
+ Researchers are exploring promising new waveguide platforms that provide these same benefits for applications that operate in the ultraviolet to the infrared spectrum. These platforms enable a much broader range of applications, such as spectroscopy for chemical sensing, precision metrology and computation.
+ Until now, key components and subsystems for applications, such as atomic clocks, quantum communications and high-resolution spectroscopy, are constructed in racks and on tabletops. This has been necessary because they operate at wavelengths not accessible to silicon waveguides due to its lower bandgap and other absorption properties in the UV to near-IR that reduce the optical power handling capabilities, among other factors.
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