Dissertation Defense: Abhinav Nishant, "Design, Fabrication, and Characterization of Novel Polymers Based Integrated Photonic Devices"

    Friday, April 22, 2022 - 9:00am

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    Password: photonics


    The field of integrated photonics is a key technological area that is rapidly gaining interest from the academic and industrial community. The first wave of innovation in this area was fueled by the demand created by the optical data communications industry, with products such as optical transceivers. The impact of this technology continues to grow with newer applications building up in areas such as next-generation consumer devices, medical instruments, space technologies, and defense-related interests. Further advances in photonic materials and devices are required to keep up with the demand while maintaining stringent cost margins and advancing performance milestones. Optical polymers provide a path to achieve these cost targets while offering diverse opportunities for innovation.

    In this dissertation, we demonstrate the application of three new optical polymers, each offering a solution to a unique set of problems being faced by the scientific research community. First, we will discuss the applications of chalcogenide hybrid inorganic/organic polymers (CHIPs), developed in collaboration with the Pyun group in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at The University of Arizona. CHIPs are first-of-their-kind, high refractive index optical polymers with high transparency in the infrared regime. We will discuss the processing techniques of this polymer in order to create high-quality thin films and then introduce several photonic devices that were fabricated in this material platform and designed to operate at short-wave infrared wavelengths (SWIR). This family of polymers was also used to demonstrate other photonic devices targeting mid-infrared (MWIR) and long-wave infrared (LWIR) wavelengths. Next, we will introduce devices made from novel optical polymers that we call refractive index contrast (RIC) polymers. The clever chemistry behind these polymers allows for a dry film fabrication approach to fabricate photonic devices such as optical waveguides and grayscale index tapers. This polymer's key advantage is highlighted by fabricating optical interconnects on flexible substrates that were used to transfer light between two spatially separated ion-exchange waveguide samples. Finally, we will discuss our work using electro-optic polymers to fabricate low-loss, high bandwidth electro-optic phase modulators with state-of-the-art performance.