Lei awarded NSF grant to develop all-optical fabrication of waveguides in silicon
Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021
MANHATTAN — Shuting Lei, Carl R. and Mary T. Ice industrial engineering professor in the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering at Kansas State University, has received a National Science Foundation grant to develop a direct laser writing method to produce 3D optical waveguides embedded inside silicon with low propagation loss.
Lei will lead K-State's portion of the nearly $500,000 three-year project, "Collaborative Research: All-Optical Fabrication of Low-Loss, High-Index Contrast, Silicon-in-Silicon Waveguides," alongside his colleague from the University of Central Florida, Xiaoming Yu. Funding was awarded through the NSF Division of Electrical Communications and Cyber Systems and will be split as two collaborative NSF grants, one for each institution.
Lei said while low-loss 3D waveguides have been demonstrated inside glass, the typical loss for waveguides written inside silicon so far is more than one order of magnitude higher. The project will face two main challenges in dealing with insufficient energy deposition and random material change inside silicon, which will be tackled through novel beam delivery and fundamental understanding of material response under intense laser irradiation.
"This project will generate fundamental knowledge on laser-matter interaction in bulk silicon, aiming at creating low-loss and 3D waveguides deep inside silicon," Lei said. "If successful, this direct laser writing method will simplify fabrication procedures for silicon photonic devices, increase communication bandwidth, facilitate device miniaturization and significantly enhance on-chip and chip-to-chip data processing capabilities."