In the NOISE-Lab, we are building ultra low-power nanoscale optoelectronic devices by engineering the interaction between light and matter. A fundamental tradeoff in integrated photonics exists between the extent at which one can engineer the amplitude, phase and frequency of light and the energy, speed, active area, and cost needed to do so. In our research, we want to address this tradeoff by exploring new materials (with strong electro-optic and nonlinear optical properties), new photonic devices (nanoscale high quality resonators) and new system architectures (different types of coupled resonator architectures coupled via optoelectronic feedback circuits) to sculpt and tune the properties of light at few photon levels. If you are interested, you can see here the recent talk given by Arka in UW-EE research colloquium in Fall, 2014.
Two main research themes in my group are: integrated low power hybrid silicon compatible photonic platform for optical communication and computing; and miniature optical systems (image sensor, microscope, spatial light modulator and spectrometer) based on nano-photonic devices. Some of the ongoing research projects are:
Hybrid silicon photonics(HySiP)To improve the transceivers in current silicon photonics (SiP), we are looking into new materials, cavities and new modulation techniques. The current SiP devices are limited either by the large size of the devices, and hence large power and low speed (in MZI); or by high Q-resonators (thermal stabilization necessitates large power consumption; and photon lifetime reduces speed). We are exploring nanophotonic innovation to solve this three dimensional optimization problem (speed, power and size). Our approach is to explore a hybrid silicon photonic platform, where the underlying photonic devices are made of silicon, on top of which we will integrate new materials (like electro-optic oxides, polymers etc.). We, however, want to go beyond signal communication, and want to explore the avenues of optical computing. For that we are actively working on new nonlinear optical materials. We want to push the energy of these devices to few photon levels, where we can also study quantum optical effects. These devices can be thought of as precursors to future quantum information processing devices.
Self electro-optic devices for optical computingUsing a photo-absorbing material in a silicon ring resonator, we have proposed a platform, where an optoelectronic feedback could be easily implemented. This device provides a way to have optical bistability, without explicitly relying on any optical nonlinearity. Moreover, this device is shown to satisfy all th criteria, an optical swicth should have to build a scalable digital optical computing system. In our current research, we are looking into new materials, that can be integrated on top of silicon photonics, and can absorb light. Then we will build the optoelectronic feedback.
Funding Sources: AFOSR (YIP-Program)
2D-material nanophotonicsWe are actively collaborating with leading researchers in the 2D material community to build photonic devices using 2D materials. 2D materials are a newly discovered materials, which are monolayer and single-atom thick. Due to such low volume, the energy required to change this material can be very low. Moreover, these materials can be easily transferred to other materials. In our reseach, we are looking into building new light source, electro-optic modulator as well as strongly nonlinear optical devices using the 2D materials.
Funding Sources: NSF-EFRI-2DARE; AFOSR (YIP-Program)
Single photon nonlinear opticsWe are exploring ways to realize single photon nonlinear optics in a scalable fashion. For this we are optimizing various multi-modal cavities to enhance the effective nonlinerity, as well as exploring strongly nonlinear material, including 2D materials, and organic materials.
Funding Sources: NSF-EFRI-ACQUIRE; AFOSR (YIP-Program)
Tunable photonicsAs part of the core HySiP interest, we are exploring various different materials, including complex oxides, polymer and phase change materials to build tunable and reconfigurable optical devices. This work also connects the other research interest of iCOS.
Funding Sources: NSF-EFRI-ACQUIRE
Intelligent compact optical sensor (iCOS)With increase in wearable technology, Internet of things, and in this effort to make everything smart, one needs a lot of sensors, which needs to be compact, low power, and also intelligent to reduce the subsequent data processing. In our research, we are looking into this problem, by using nanophotonics. The compactness of the sensor demands to have integrated photonics to be used. Unfortunately, with small size, the performance of the sensor goes down. Hence we are researching to supplement the sensors with computing, to gain back the performance. We are mainly interetsed in two type of sensors: image sensors and spectrometer.
Low contrast metasurfacePrevious realizations of metasurfaces are base on metal or silicon. The rationale behind using these materials is their high refractive index. However, this is problematic as both the materials significantly absorb light at visible and near IR wavelength (<1 micron). In our research we are exploring ways to build such metasurface based optical elements using low-contrast materials.
Funding Sources: Intel Early Career Award
Tunable dielectric metasurfaceMetasurfaces are two-dimensional quasi-periodic array of subwavelength features. Dielectric metasurfaces allow wavefront shaping of the incident light. However, the true potential of such metasurface can be realized, if one can tune them. We are looking into new materials with tunable refractive index to achieve this goal, or using flexible substrates to mechanically tune the metasurfaces.
Cell-size Optical MicroscopeUsing the metasurface technology, we plan to build untra-compact, implantable optical microscopes. Using such microscopes,we can implant several of them inside a mouse brain, and image several parts of the brain simultaneously, thus truly enabling large scale brain imaging. Details of the project can be found here (PDF).
Freeform opticsUsing metasurfaces, we are designing and building freeform optics, where we realize higher order polynominal surfaces, such as cubic surfaces. Details of the project can be found here. These freeform metasurfaces can be useful for various applications, including tunable eyewears, augmented reality visors, laser beam shaper and retroreflectors.
Funding Sources: Amazon Catalyst
We also have active collaboration with DoD labs: NRL and AFRL.