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Emerging Startup

High-Performance Photonic Devices

Integrated photonic chip

A startup emerging from Marko Loncar's lab aims to develop LN-based photonic products that may address needs in a wide range of industries. (Image credit: Second Bay Studios/Harvard SEAS.)

Photonics components are indispensable for a wide range of applications, including optical telecommunication, wireless networks, sensors, and emerging quantum optical systems. Lithium niobate (LN) is one of the widest used optical materials, often referred to as “silicon of photonics”. However, LN photonics components remained discrete, due to difficulties in nano structuring this material. As a result, integrated photonic systems have been based on silicon, given this material’s maturity, ease of integration, and low manufacturing cost. Silicon, however, is not an optimal photonic material, since it is not active (no gain, no electro-optic effect, etc), and is transparent for infrared wavelengths, only. As a result, silicon photonics is ill suited to meet the growing demand for ultrahigh performance in the big data age. A startup emerging from Marko Lončar’s Laboratory for Nanoscale Optics aims to commercialize innovations in the nanofabrication and integration of LN. This photonic material has demonstrated properties that make it an ideal platform for ultrahigh-performance photonic components and integrated systems. Results on prototype devices have been presented at high-profile industry conferences and published in high-profile journals. The company will develop LN-based photonic products that may address needs in telecommunication, high-performance computing, optical machine learning circuits, machine vision, radar systems, wireless communications, quantum computers, and sensing and navigation.

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