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