Advanced Optical Modulators Using Submicron Lithium Niobate Thin Films
The broader impacts/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project is that it will enable a dramatic leap in the technology of electrooptic modulators. Electrooptic modulators have widespread applications in fiber-optic telecommunications. The modulators are also key components for optically-steered phased-arrayed antennas, electromagnetic-attack- resistant and radio-over- fiber radio frequency photonic links, light detection and ranging, optical sensing, metrology, storage, sampling and communications, all-optical signal processing. The most important future application is in optical interconnects for supercomputers and data centers. The high-performance devices developed under this program will eventually be found in data communication to transmit data between racks of data centers and supercomputer facilities and between microprocessors, graphic and memory chips. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project aims at developing high-performance optical modulators using a novel lithium niobate (LiNbO3) on silicon waveguide technology. LiNbO3 has been long regarded as the most attractive material for electrooptic modulation for high-performance optical communication systems. However, the weakly confined LiNbO3 waveguides formed by diffusion or implantation of dopants do not lend themselves to high-level chip integration. The goal of this proposal is to merge two complementary photonic technologies (i.e., silicon and LiNbO3 photonics) and make a hybrid platform that offers the advantages of both technologies, while it avoids their respective disadvantages. Based on the technology, LiNbO3-on- Si waveguides, microring resonators and electrooptic modulators (Mach-Zehnder interferometer and microresonator types) will be commercialized. The Mach-Zehnder devices are expected to operate at voltages several times less than commercial devices and several times more compact.