EPFL scientists have developed ultra-low loss silicon nitride integrated circuits (ICs). Such ICs are critical for photonic devices, such as chip-scale frequency combs, narrow-line width lasers, coherent coping and neuromorphic computing, among other uses. This type of IC can encode information in light to be transmitted through optical fibers and is described as a central component of optical communications.
The IC created by the EPFL team has a loss of 1 dB / m, a record value for integrated non-linear photonic material. The researchers say that ultra-low loss of this type is essential for integrated photonics, allowing the synthesis, processing and detection of optical signals using waveguides on the chip. This low loss will reduce the energy budget for building chip-scale optical frequency combs used in various applications.
The new technology can build silicon nitride integrated photonic circuits with low optical losses and small footprints. The new technology was used to develop waveguides measuring one meter in length on a 5 × 5 mm square chip using high quality factor micron resonators. The researchers also report that their technique has a high manufacturing efficiency, considered essential for industrial production.
Optical frequency cones are used in applications, including coherent optical transceivers, low-noise microwave synthesizers, LiDAR, neuromorphic fixed computing and optical atomic clocks. The project researchers note that they are eager to see their chip devices used in emerging applications, including coherent LiDAR, photonic neural networks and quantum computing. Chips of this type are usually made of silicon, but this chip innovation is based on silicon nitride. It is not clear at this point when the new CIs can be integrated into commercially available products.