Tunable Optical Chip Paves Way For New Quantum Devices

Researchers have created a silicon carbide (SiC) photonic integrated chip that can be thermally tuned by applying an electric signal. The approach could one day be used to create a large range of reconfigurable devices such as phase-shifters and tunable optical couplers needed for networking applications and quantum information processing.

Although most optical and computer chips are made of silicon, there is increasing interest in SiC because it exhibits better thermal, electrical and mechanical properties than silicon while also being biocompatible and operating at wavelengths from the visible to infrared. 

In The Optical Society (OSA) journal Optics Letters, researchers led by Ali Adibi from the Georgia Institute of Technology detail how they integrated a microheater and an optical device called a microring resonator onto a SiC chip. The accomplishment represents the first fully integrated and thermally tunable SiC optical switch that operates at near-infrared wavelengths.

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