Ultra Compact Power Efficient Nanophotonic Waveguide Modulator using Functional Polymer on Silicon Nanopillars

Award Information
Department of Defense
Air Force
Award Year:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Omega Optics, Inc.
10435 Burnet Rd., Suite 108, Austin, TX, 78758
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Alan Wang
Sr. Research Scientist
(512) 996-8833
Business Contact:
Clara Chen
(512) 996-8833
Research Institution:
UT Austin/Univ. of Washing.
Ray T Alex
10100 Burnet Rd. MERB-160
Austin, TX, 78758
(512) 471-7035
Nonprofit college or university
Nano-photonics, defined by the fusion of nano-technology and photonics, is an emerging frontier providing challenges for fundamental research and opportunities for new engineering technologies. Due to the rapid advancement of functional polymers exploiting Pockel effect from large hyperpolarizability chromophores, nano-photononics on electro-optic (E-O) polymers is anticipated to play a significant role in next generation photonic systems. In this program, Omega Optics, together with the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Washington, proposes an innovative approach to build a 40GHz nano-photonic Mach-Zehnder modulator based on E-O polymer refilled silicon photonic crystal slot waveguide. The proposed structure, which makes fully use of the slow photon effect provided by the photonic crystal band structure, carves out a novel path to enhance the electro-optic efficiency by two orders of magnitude when compared with conventional optical waveguides. Another exclusive advantage is the concentration of the guided power in the slot region where the poled electro-optic polymer is refilled. This results in a significantly strengthened interaction between the electric field of the guided mode and the applied voltage. Benefited from these two scientific innovations, plus the engineering improvements on the design of traveling wave electrodes and fiber-optic coupling, we expect to demonstrate a high bandwidth nano-photonic modulator with ultra-compact size and millivolt driving voltage. In the Phase I program, we have paved our way to all necessary building blocks for the construction of the nano-photonic modulator, including e-beam lithography, electro-optic poling, polymer refilling and prototype device demonstration. In Phase II, we will work closely with Dr. Alex Jens group in the University of Washington to develop high efficient E-O polymers optimized for the nano-photonic structure. We will also conduct in-depth investigation of the device physics through 3D time-dependent simulations and characterization of fabricated devices. The outcome of such study will assist us to enhance the performance of the device in optics as well as in RF features. Device engineering and packaging issues will also be addressed to ensure the demonstration of a fully packaged polymer nano-photonic modulator. Application of such a device for optically controlled phased array antenna will be explored with emphasis placed on technology integration with our existing capabilities. BENEFIT: The proposed polymer photonic crystal modulator on silicon-on-insulator (SOI) platform will find dual-use commercialization potential in both military and civilian applications. The military usage includes high speed and low power compact devices for communications, signal processing, sensing and in general C4I applications, especially on the airborne platforms. It can have a broad range of commercial applications including optical communication, optical interconnects and optical sensing.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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