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MEMS tunable photonics

Following the rapid expansion of telecommunications via optical fibers, the next generation of light circuits, made in the surface of silicon chips, are already reaching society. In this project, we combine this technology with microelectromechanical tuning, to develop the next generation of optical communications and sensing.

Using our photonic MEMS technology, we demonstrated a low-power MEMS tunable photonic ring resonator for wavelength selection and routing in next-generation optical networks

Nowadays, the fiber optic backbone of the internet is rapidly advancing into our homes, due to the limitations in bandwidth and losses of current electrical communication systems. Following this trend, silicon-based optical integrated circuits in the nanoscale (silicon photonics) is set to be a key technology for these applications and others, such as interconnects in optical networks and optical sensing, that further harvest the benefits of optics.

In this project, we combine two fields of silicon technology: silicon photonics and silicon MEMS, to improve the performance of current optical communications and to enable next-generation communications and sensing systems. We do this using a novel technology based on a very simple silicon-on-insulator fabrication process that yield highly functional MEMS tunable photonics.

As a first demonstrator device, we used our MEMS tunable photonic technology to fabricate tunable photonic ring resonators for on-chip filtering and routing of wavelength channels in optical communications networks. Our results combine i) very low-power actuation, ii) good optical performance, iii) the highest reported wavelength tuning rate, and iv) a number of fabrication steps three times lower than previous tunable photonic ring resonators.

Project sponsor

Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet)

Project members

Carlos Errando-Herranz

Frank Niklaus

Göran Stemme

Kristinn B. Gylfason

Publications related to this project