Lithium niobate (LiNbO3) has been a widely used electro-optic (EO) material since the 1970’s. Large electro-optic (EO) coefficients and lower third-order nonlinearity compared to other III-V materials (e.g., InP, Si) make LiNbO3 an ideal candidate for active photonic devices. Although indium phosphide (InP) and silicon (Si) -based foundries are already established, a LiNbO3-based foundry is something unimaginable until now. Recently, advances in crystal ion sliced (CIS) films of LiNbO3 on insulator (TFLNOI), which guide optical modes almost 20 times smaller than their bulk-LiNbO3 counterparts have emerged as an answer to some of these issues. Now, strip-loaded waveguides can be used to tightly confine the optical mode, allowing smaller electrode gaps, decreased Vπ, tighter bending radii and PIC compatibility. With this advance in thin-film technology, photonic integrated circuits (PICs) in the LiNbO3 platform can now be realized, paving the way for future LiNbO3 platform-based foundries. Our goal is to investigate fundamental building blocks for TFLNOI PICs and ultimately demonstrate the utility of these unit-cells to produce an EO modulator that will reduce the footprint of standard Mach-Zehnder Modulators and bring improved DC and high-frequency EO response.
Thin-film LiNbO3 on insulator (TFLNOI) PICs can be leveraged for: analog photonic links that possess gain, THz/sub-mmW/mmW sensing, antenna remoting, optical switching, generating entangled photon pairs, etc. In addition to being useful for many applications, TFLNOI is chemically stable, enables the replacement of heavy coaxial cable with lightweight electromagnetic interference insensitive fiber. The proposed research has potential use in systems both on and off of this planet for NASA.
A reduction in SWaP-C, in comparison to currently existing LiNbO3 devices. TFLNOI PICs outperform conventional Si PICs in terms of operational bandwidth and optical power handling making them ideal for next generation links. The technology can provide a method to layout devices akin to Si photonics without experiencing the struggle of process development and device modelling.