All-optical switching devices for the next generation information technology
Provided here is a method to fabricate highly miniaturized, all-optical devices using a nanophotonic waveguide composed of an inexpensive material for ultrafast logic. The nano-scale structures used tightly confine and guide light in the visible and infrared with excellent linear optical properties. The strong confinement and high Kerr response in the material used combined with low multi-photon absorption lead to excellent optical properties and the ability to build highly efficient, ultrafast nonlinear devices. All-optical logic devices operating with low energy thresholds across several communications bands can be constructed.
The material’s bandgap provides transparency throughout the visible spectrum and ultrafast all-optical capabilities for wavelengths greater than 800 nm. It has a high nonlinear refractive index that is 30 times silica, with vanishing two-photon absorption around 800 nm. It also has a high linear refractive index of ~2.4, enabling dense on-chip integration of nanophotonic waveguides, adaptable waveguide dispersion and high confinement. This high confinement produces effective nonlinearities up to 100,000 times that found in standard silica fiber. Further the material can be deposited directly on silicon chips then structure devices using conventional fabrication procedures. In addition, the material is inexpensive, abundant, and nontoxic making for an ideal platform to create miniature devices for all-optical processing.
Intellectual Property Status: Patent(s) Pending
By 2020, the demand for digital communication (internet) bandwidth is predicted to greatly exceed all existing technologies. Currently, information sent over the internet is piped through a series of fiber optic cables and electrical redirecting stations. These redirecting stations are inefficient, first converting an optical signal to an electrical one, then directing that signal where to go and finally converting that electrical signal back to an optical one. Often a signal will go through many redirecting stations before reaching a final destination. To avoid the speed limitations imposed by electron transport times in conventional optoelectronic devices, all-optical processing solutions are the next step. Such stations, as made possible by this technology could replace existing optoelectronic communication systems (such as used for the internet) making for speeds orders of magnitude faster than today’s technologies.