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Architecting glass

Himanshu Jain, together with colleagues Daniel Nolan and Volkmar Dierolf, have been awarded an NSF grant for their continued research toward new optical functionalities in glass.

Photonic integrated circuits (PICs), the optical analog of microelectronic circuits, are key to the next major advancement in communication, sensing, information, display, and other technologies. They offer several advantages compared to discrete systems including smaller size, lower power consumption, better performance and reliability through simplification of component coupling and packaging processes, and lower cost through batch fabrication.

The methods currently used for fabricating PICs are suitable for planar geometries, whereas achieving a high density of device elements requires fabrication of 3D systems that are particularly important for optical computing, optical communication and new forms of high density optical memory.

A major hurdle toward this goal is the difficulty of fabrication and integration of transparent, multifunctional micro-optical elements, which must be crystals of low symmetry rather than glass that is inherently passive. A multinational team led by researchers at Lehigh University recently demonstrated the proof-of-principle for fabricating 3D single crystal architecture in glass (SCAG) using a femtosecond (fs) laser.

The present research is extending this method further for specifically realizing the concept of “principal state transmission” recently introduced by Corning, Inc. It promises to increase the transmission bandwidth of an optical fiber by an order of magnitude, thereby facilitating the next breakthrough in optical communication.

Source: NSF.gov

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