CIAN Lectures Series: Robert A. Norwood – “Electro-optic Polymers and Their Role in Silicon Photonics”

March 28, 2014
1:30pm – 3:30pm
College of Optical Sciences Auditorium 307

bobRobert A. Norwood
College of Optical Sciences
University of Arizona

“Electro-optic Polymers and Their Role in Silicon Photonics”


Recently, we have witnessed the increased pervasiveness of information technologies and the explosion of wireless devices and streaming technology.  Internet networks and large data centers must continually increase capacity to keep up with our growing demand for data.  In 2013, the Internet carried on the order of 60 exabytes (1018 bytes) of information per month.  To put that into perspective, consider that the total text, audio and video output of humanity up to the year 2000 is estimated to have been about 12 exabytes.  It is clear that a multi-pronged technology development program is needed that continues to ride the success of microprocessor technology, while using photonics technology to provide both transmission and limited processing functionalities.  Major advances in organic photonics could help us keep up with the data explosion—namely, by deploying commercialized electro-optic (EO) polymers with high thermal- and photostability.  New materials in beta testing can reach between 200 and 250 pm/V, which is eight times larger than the benchmark material, lithium niobate.  EO polymers have long been valued for their intrinsically high bandwidths —reaching well into the hundreds of gigahertz and beyond.  This high bandwidth derives from the origin of EO polymer nonlinearity—virtual excitations of -conjugated electrons.  The combination of high EO coefficients, low dielectric constant, and ease of fabrication puts present generation EO polymers on excellent footing with respect to other EO materials, enabling the design and fabrication of high performance modulators with low drive voltages (0.5 – 2.5V).    It is also feasible to design and fabricate ultracompact modulators that can be easily integrated with silicon photonics.   Silicon is an increasingly important platform poised to revolutionize data center and computer interconnections the way that optical components such as amplifiers, dense wavelength division multiplexing filters, and wavelength-selective switches have transformed the fiber-optic core of the Internet.  We will review recent progress in EO polymers and discuss fundamental considerations concerning their use on the silicon photonics platform for improved modulation, switching,  and tunable filtering among other critical optical network functions.


Robert A. Norwood is a Professor in the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona, where he performs research on photonic materials and devices.  Prior to his current position, Dr. Norwood spent 15 years in R&D leadership positions in industry at both Fortune 100 corporations (AlliedSignal) and venture-capital backed startups (VP and CTO of Photon-X).  He is a world expert in polymer integrated optics and optical materials, with more than 100 refereed publications, 7 book chapters, 29 issued US patents, and 65 invited talks.   Dr. Norwood has served as a conference chair or co-chair for OTF (OSA) and Linear and Nonlinear Optics in Organic Materials (SPIE), and has served on the program committee for both OFC and CLEO, among others.  He is an Associate Editor of Optical Materials Express.  He is both an OSA fellow and an SPIE fellow, as well as a member of APS and IEEE. He holds the Ph. D. in physics from the University of Pennsylvania, and the B.S. in physics and mathematics from MIT.


If you are not in Tucson, but would like to join the meeting, please click on the link in the box below.

CIAN Lecture–Dr. Robert NorwoodJoin us for a webinar on Mar 28, 2014 at 1:30 PM PDT.Register now!

Electro-optic Polymers and Their Role in Silicon Photonics

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