Microwave Signals Program Light On A Chip

Researchers have created a new integrated photonics platform to store light in an integrated circuit and electrically control its frequency (or color). The platform is based on atomic systems and can help with photonic quantum information processing, optical signal processing, and microwave photonics.

It is the first time microwaves have been used to programmable shift the frequency of light on a chip. Many applications in quantum photonics and classical optics necessitate optical frequency shifting, which has proven difficult.

Microwave signals are common in wireless communications, but researchers believe they interact with photons too weakly. That was before Marko Loncar invented a method for producing high-performance optical microstructures from lithium niobate, a material with excellent electro-optic properties.

In the most recent study, they combined and advanced these technologies to create a molecule-like system and used this new platform to precisely control the frequency and phase of light on a chip.

Because of its low optical loss and high electro-optic nonlinearity, lithium niobate’s unique properties enable us to control light dynamically in a programmable electro-optic system. It could result in the development of programmable filters for optical and microwave signal processing, with applications in radio astronomy, radar technology, and other fields.

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