Photonic chips harnessing thin film lithium niobate

Professor Arnan Mitchell
School of Engineering, RMIT University

Silicon photonics is just emerging as a genuine industrial technology driven by the insatiable needs for low-cost and high capacity data links in data centres. However, while the ability for silicon photonic chips to be manufactured at scale in CMOS foundries appears to be its greatest strength, in fact in comparison to electronics, photonic industrial applications are far too specialised to justify the almost unimaginable manufacturing throughput of CMOS infrastructure. As a result, many industries are re-evaluating their platforms and modes of manufacture – exploring lower volume advanced manufacture concepts and using materials that are not strictly CMOS compatible, such as specialised low-loss nitrides, and there is a return to the original workhorse of the integrated optics world from decades past: lithium niobate.

This talk will present a summary of the work being done by the Integrated Photonics and Applications Centre (InPAC) at RMIT University in the field of thin film lithium niobate. The talk will cover applications in high speed data communications, microwave photonics and sensors, such as optical gyroscopes. The talk will particularly focus on the potential for thin-film lithium niobate to offer ultraefficient nonlinear optical behaviour with the possibility to become a practical building block of industrially manufactured photonic chips.

Arnan Mitchell is a Distinguished Professor in the School of Engineering at RMIT University, Director of the RMIT Micro Nano Research Facility (MNRF) and leads the Integrated Photonics and Applications Centre (InPAC). He is a highly multidisciplinary researcher working in microchip technologies combining light, sound, fluids and electronics with applications spanning radar systems for defence, high speed fibre optic communications and point of care diagnostic systems for biomedicine. He is enthusiastic about translating technology into the hands of end-users and has dedicated much of his career to building and training diverse teams and comprehensive micro and nanotechnology infrastructure to enable breakthrough discoveries to achieve real world impact.

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