The University of Southampton

Photonic Sytems, Circuits and Sensors PhD Projects

Next generation silicon photonic devices for low power and high data rate applications

Supervisor: Dr David Thompson
Co-Supervisor: Dr Abdul Shakoor

Future growth in the performance of computing systems is hindered by the electronic technology upon which the vast majority of its hardware is realised. Electronic technology is being pushed ever closer to its physical limitations and as performance is pushed further, power consumption is also becoming problematic. Silicon photonics technology is widely seen as the solution, however in its current form the performance, cost and how densely it can integrated into such systems are not sufficient. Especially, the performance of silicon optical modulator which is an important component of a photonic interconnect is limited due to the weak electro-optic effect in silicon.

This studentship, funded by the Royal Society, will work on a project that will pioneer a new photonic platform which has the potential to immensely improve the performance of silicon electro-optic modulators and revolutionise future compute systems. The platform involves integrating high performance electro-optic materials such as Lithium Niobate with low cost silicon photonic waveguides to make high performance electro-optic devices for computing systems

We are looking for an enthusiastic candidate with background in photonics, electronics, physics or material science to take on this project. The work will involve design of electro-optic devices using modelling software, fabrication of devices using one of the best clean room facilities in UK as well as device characterisation in our state of the art high speed silicon photonics laboratory.

Mid index integrated transceiver for data centres

Supervisor: F Y Gardes
Co-Supervisor: H Chong

The aim of this project is to design new innovative circuits and integration schemes that will enable optical interconnect technologies in future data centres. The student will work alongside research assistants and industrial partners to develop integrated photonics circuits based on Silicon nitride materials. The process development will also investigate the integration of mid index material with photonic structures such as state of the art electro absorption optical modulators and detectors using novel processes and coupling schemes targeting next generation temperature insensitive photonic transceiver modules. The Simulation, process development and testing will be performed in house in our state of the art facility.

Silicon Photonics based optical modulators

Supervisor: Professor Graham Reed
Co-Supervisor: Shin Saito (ECS)

The supervisors have recently been awarded a new EPSRC grant (EP/M009416/1) entitled “Si Fin Modulator for Low Power Interconnection”.

The student will work alongside the RA on the project to develop a silicon photonics technology based upon etching completely vertical faces of the (111) plane to the substrate by anisotropic Tetra-Methyl-Ammonium-Hydroxide (TMAH) wet etching. This will minimise scattering loss and therefore will facilitate development of a more efficient photonics platform. Within this structure we will also develop a new type of modulator based upon carrier accumulation, enhancing the capacitance of the device appropriately.

The resources of the project will be leveraged to maximise the impact of the student’s work, and to enhance progress, maximising the effectiveness of both the studentship and the additional EPSRC grant funding.

Integration of mid-IR lasers with silicon and germanium waveguides

Supervisor: Professor Goran Mashanovich (ORC)
Co-supervisors: Dr Milos Nedeljkovic (ORC), Professor Jon Heffernan (Sheffield)

Recently there has been tremendous interest in extending photonics beyond its traditional spectral regions, such as visible light for imaging, and near-infrared ‘light’ for telecommunications. The mid-infrared region with wavelengths beyond 3 µm has great potential important application areas such as environmental sensing, homeland security and medicine. However, today performance of photonics components (such as light sources, modulators, waveguides, and detectors) operating in the mid-infrared region needs significant improvement to be of practical interest in the above-mentioned applications.

We are looking for candidates interested to investigate integration of mid-IR sources with Si and Ge waveguides. The project will involve a range of activities including the design and fabrication of photonic integrated circuits, characterisation of the fabricated devices, and building/testing of photonics systems. The project will involve close collaboration with Sheffield University where the sources will be fabricated. These sources will be integrated and characterised in Southampton.

Silicon and germanium photonic sensors for medical applications

Supervisor: Professor Goran Mashanovich (ORC)

Co-supervisors: Dr Milos Nedeljkovic (ORC), Professor Saul Faust (Medicine, Southampton)

A number of molecules show strong absorption bands in the mid-infrared wavelength region (2μm<λ<15μm). As silicon and germanium are transparent in the mid-IR, they are main candidates for compact photonic circuits and systems for bio/chemical and medical sensing. In this project photonic circuits will be designed and fabricated, microfluidic channels integrated with photonic chips and finally different sensing experiments performed, particularly targeting applications in healthcare (e.g. cancer, Alzheimer, poisoning, antimicrobial resistance). In this multidisciplinary project, the student will work with researchers from photonics, chemistry, medicine and electronics. The state of the art facilities at the Southampton Nanofabrication Centre, Medical Faculty and Optoelectronics Research Centre will be available for the design, fabrication and characterisation of mid-infrared medical sensors.

Efficient mid-IR phase shifters and optical modulators

Supervisor: Professor Goran Mashanovich (ORC)
Co-supervisor: Dr. Milos Nedeljkovic (ORC), Professor Brian Hayden (Chemistry, Southampton)

To fully utilize the potential of the mid-IR wavelength range (2-15 μm), for communications and sensing applications, efficient phase shifters and optical modulators need to be developed. The project will comprise of the design of silicon and germanium based phase shifters and optical modulators, using all Si/Ge approaches as well as hybrid solutions (incorporation of different materials with Si/Ge). These devices will be fabricated, characterised at a range of different wavelengths, and eventually integrated in transmitters/transceivers/sensors in the state-of-the-art Zepler Institute facilities. There will be an intensive collaboration with several colleagues from the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), Electronics and Computer Sciences (ECS) and Chemistry, as well as from industry.

Integration of mid-IR plasmonic bolometer detectors with silicon and germanium waveguides

Supervisor: Dr. Milos Nedeljkovic (ORC)
Co-supervisor: Professor Goran Mashanovich (ORC), Professor Otto Muskens (Physics and Astronomy, Southampton)

To make fully integrated mid-infrared sensors on silicon chips for medical, environmental, and industrial applications, new kinds of detectors will be required that can be manufactured using low cost processes. This project will focus on achieving this by integrating plasmonic antennas with Silicon and Germanium waveguides. The work would involve a mixture of photonic simulation, cleanroom fabrication, and optoelectronic device characterisation in the Zepler Institute’s world class facilities. Frequent collaboration with other Southampton colleagues (Optoelectronics Research Centre, Physics and Astronomy, Electronics and Computer Science) and with international collaborators would be an important part of the role.

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