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Pierre Edinger

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About me

Hi! I’m a PhD student at the Micro and Nanosystems department since June 2018, with Kristinn B. Gylfason and Frank Niklaus as supervisors. I mainly work on the European project MORPHIC, where we aim to integrate photonic MEMS as a standard platform for low-power reconfigurable photonic circuits.

MEMS-based Zero Power Reconfigurable Photonic ICs (MORPHIC)

Here below is a short summary of the project and my role in it. Feel free to send me an email if you'd like to know more !

Current research:

In the recent decades, the number, performance, and application spread of electronic chips has grown exponentially. However, such growth naturally led to a need for alternatives with much lower power consumption, particularly for novel applications for which standard digital electronics are not optimized.

An alternative has been to use integrated optics for computing information at higher speeds and with lower power consumption. In that case, light is confined and controlled on a chip instead of electrons, using similar concepts as for optical fibers. The dominant technology for such light-based chips is called silicon photonics, which harnesses a large part of the already existing development and infrastructures used for electronics.

However, silicon photonics is still an expensive technology, and requires lengthy fabrication cycles. There is therefore a need for so-called programmable silicon photonic chips, that could be reused multiple times for different functions after a single fabrication run, much like Field-Programmable-Gate-Arrays (FPGAs) in electronics.

In MORPHIC, we aim to provide a programmable photonic platform that consumes very little power, using microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). MEMS actuators based on electrostatic forces intrinsically consume negligible power and can be built using silicon as well. However, their implementation into silicon photonics is not trivial: they require suspending part of the light-guiding structures in air, so that they can be mechanically moved.

MEMS-based Zero Power Reconfigurable Photonic ICs (MORPHIC)

As part of the European project, I focus on the development and testing of such MEMS-based low-power tuning elements for silicon photonic circuits. I characterize the fabrication steps that add MEMS-movable devices to the silicon photonic platform. More recently, I’ve also been working on nonvolatile MEMS devices, that can keep their state even when powered off. We also develop packaging options to protect the movable MEMS devices from the environment, a critical requirement for the technology.

P.S. The platform is also an excellent fit for creative micrometer-scale designs! For instance, our Morphic butterflies have wings that are 100 times thinner than a hair! Their wings can be  flapped using MEMS actuation, which might or might not affect other devices on the chips, very much like the butterfly effect ?

Highlighted publications:

[1] P. Edinger et al., “Silicon photonic microelectromechanical phase shifters for scalable programmable photonics,” Opt. Lett., OL, vol. 46, no. 22, pp. 5671–5674, Nov. 2021, doi: 10.1364/OL.436288.

[2] G. Jo et al., “Wafer-level hermetically sealed silicon photonic MEMS,” Photon. Res., PRJ, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. A14–A21, Feb. 2022, doi: 10.1364/PRJ.441215.

[3] C. Errando-Herranz, A. Y. Takabayashi, P. Edinger, H. Sattari, K. B. Gylfason, and N. Quack, “MEMS for Photonic Integrated Circuits,” IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 1–16, Mar. 2020, doi: 10.1109/JSTQE.2019.2943384.

Key-words: photonics, MEMS, silicon photonics, reconfigurable photonics, low-power, FPGA


Microsystem Technology (EK2350), assistant | Course web