The University of Southampton

Nonlinear Semiconductor Photonics

Headed by Professor Anna Peacock, the Nonlinear Semiconductor Photonics Group's focus is in the development of novel semiconductor waveguide platforms; from the design and characterisation stage, through to the demonstration of practical all-optical nonlinear devices.

The group has a full complement of experimental and numerical expertise to support the development, fabrication and application of a wide range of nonlinear photonic devices. It works in close collaboration with several groups across the Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering (FPSE) in particular, the Silicon Photonics group.

Group webpage

Projects:

Semiconductor devices for nonlinear photonics and applications

Supervisor: Professor Anna Peacock

Semiconductor photonics is fast becoming one of the most active areas of research, offering optoelectronic solutions for a wide range of applications not only in telecoms, but also in medicine, imaging, spectroscopy, and sensing. Within this field, a subdivision that is gaining increased momentum is semiconductor nonlinear photonics as the materials display a number of important nonlinear effects that can be used to generate and process signals at ultrafast speeds.

This research project will follow the development of semiconductor devices fabricated both from conventional planar waveguides on-chip as well as those based on an emerging platform that incorporates semiconductor materials directly into the cores of optical fibres. In particular, the semiconductor fibre platform offers a unique possibility to seamlessly link semiconductor technologies with the silica fibre infrastructures that are used to transmit light around the globe – one of the key challenges facing the mass uptake of integrated photonic chips.

A number of devices will be explored including amplifiers, frequency converters, couplers, all-optical modulators and sensors and will involve both theoretical modelling of the waveguide structures and systems as well as construction and characterisation of the devices.

Fiber Integrated 2D-materials

Supervisor: Professor Anna Peacock
Co-supervisor: Professor Dan Hewak

Two dimensional (2D)-materials are currently at the forefront of an exciting wave of scientific research. Compared to the traditional bulk counterparts, the high confinement in the 2D plane gives rise to unique optical and electronic properties that are advantageous for wide-ranging applications. However, from a photonics perspective, an inherent challenge of working with the atomically thin layers is enhancing the light-matter interaction to achieve maximal device efficiency.

Our group has recently developed a novel method for producing ultra-low loss side-polished fibres that make for an excellent platform on which to exploit the rich optical functionality of these materials over extended interaction lengths.

This project will focus on optimizing the fibre platform for the development of photonic devices that incorporate some of the most popular 2D materials, including graphene, black phosphorous and various semiconductors from the transition metal dichalcogenide family (MoS2 and WSe2 etc.). By exploiting the different material properties on offer, a number of robust and compact all-fibre integrated devices will be explored including high-speed modulators, wavelength convertors, lasers and detectors.

There will be opportunities to travel and interact with our partners on a National and International Level, including UK industry.

Laser-engineered silicon photonic devices

Supervisor: Professor Anna Peacock

Silicon materials are synonymous with the microelectronics industry and, in particular, the processors used in everyday gadgets such as mobile phones, tablets, digital radios and televisions. More recently, due to its favourable optical properties in the telecoms band, silicon has gained popularity in the field of optical information technologies, i.e., using photons instead of electrons to transfer information.  Bringing these two research areas together on an integrated platform will have huge technological consequences. However, there is a challenge: silicon photonic devices are typically fabricated via complex processing of expensive single crystal wafers, which renders multi-device integration difficult.

This project seeks to develop a simple, low cost laser materials processing procedure to fabricate high quality polysilicon photonic platforms that will ease issues associated with optoelectronic integration. The work will have elements of: i) materials growth (deposition of amorphous silicon), ii) device fabrication (photolithographic patterning and laser crystallization) of various integrated photonic components such as couplers, resonators, modulators etc., and iii) optical characterization and device benchmarking.  It will also be possible to extend this work to other semiconductor materials, including silicon-germanium alloys where the laser processing can be used to further control the optoelectronic properties of the devices through compositional tuning.

 

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