Dr. Mark C. Harrison
In computer mediated communication networks, information is typically encoded optically to transmit signals over long distances. At a network node, the optical signal is transformed into the electrical domain, processed electronically, and transformed back to an optical state to reach its destination. Transitioning between optical and electrical encoding of the signal is a potential security weak point, especially for quantum communication links. If information can remain in one state as it travels through the network, then security breaches can be detected and dealt with more easily. Furthermore, keeping the information in one state can reduce power consumption in the network. Therefore, we are designing integrated photonic devices to enable information processing in the optical domain and remove the need to transform the signal from the optical domain to the electrical domain for processing. The photonic devices will couple light in from an optical fiber using a grating coupler, which helps to funnel the light into the device integrated on a silicon wafer. We are using plasmonic devices defined by a metallic strip that conduct the optical energy to the output of the device. Plasmonic devices allow for a smaller footprint (smaller circuit) than other integrated photonic architectures, which is impactful because photonic circuits are larger than electronic circuits. This work focuses on designing the grating coupler portion of the device that enables efficient coupling of light from an optical fiber source. Our goal is to optimize the dimensions of the device using high-powered computer simulations to maximize the coupling of light. This is the first step towards integrated photonic devices that enable better and more secure communications technology.
Kuhn, Brittney, "Integrated Photonic Device" (2020). Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters. 387.