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On-chip micro-sized lens created by UD researchers

by Mark Tyson on 4 October 2019, 14:41

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A team of researchers at the University of Delaware (UD) have successfully tested a lens built at microchip scale on top of a silicon wafer, using specialised thin metasurface materials. This could be a key step in shrinking all the elements of traditional photonics down to microscale, enabling optical microcomputing, next-generation compact LiDAR units, on-chip spectrometers, and quantum information processing.

To solve the problem of downsizing the optics UD researchers including Tingyi Gu, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, have built a lens from a metasurface material on top of a silicon wafer. Issues of signal loss with previous 'plasmonic' metasurface materials were side-stepped by creating a new kind of metasurface made from etched dielectric materials atop of silicon wafers. This material creates a 'lens' that introduces a signal loss of less than one dB - reducing potential for unwanted heat and noise from the design. Now, thanks to the new dielectric metasurface lens, "we can make a device much smaller and more compact," asserted Gu.

If you look at the diagram above you can see an image of an on-chip micro-sized lens, created at UD by the researchers (with simulated light response superimposed). It is made from various gratings etched upon the silicon in the special materials, and it exhibited several of the key properties of a traditional glass lens in the tests - "including converging beams with a measurable focal length (8 micrometers) and object and image distance (44 and 10.1 µm)," notes IEEE Spectrum.

Of course the grand plan is to put these micro-scale lenses into microchips. The speed-of-light devices are "going to be fast," said Gu. However, the team now has to start working on integrating these lenses into complex traditional electronic circuitry.



HEXUS Forums :: 4 Comments

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Now, if you can go deeper and affect the spin and orbital momentum of the light as well as wavelength and whether it's on or off, imagine the bandwidth potential.

I had some equations in my notebook about this but I couldn't get my head around them.

So I wrote them on a random whiteboard at work. Someone solved them. No idea who.

EDIT: They also put a note to stop writing random black hole equations on their whiteboard. Which was quite amusing as you can work out out if light has been past a black hole by the angular momentum.


…So I left them with Hawking's rate of evaporation of a black hole equation. I still don't get how you can use any derivative of Planck's Constant (h-bar) in this when you're beyond the event horizon which is where this equation operates. I didn't get an answer.

I've been drinking again. Plus I've not been out of the house for several days and I'm going stir crazy.
philehidiot
Now, if you can go deeper and affect the spin and orbital momentum of the light as well as wavelength and whether it's on or off, imagine the bandwidth potential.

I had some equations in my notebook about this but I couldn't get my head around them.

So I wrote them on a random whiteboard at work. Someone solved them. No idea who.

EDIT: They also put a note to stop writing random black hole equations on their whiteboard. Which was quite amusing as you can work out out if light has been past a black hole by the angular momentum.


…So I left them with Hawking's rate of evaporation of a black hole equation. I still don't get how you can use any derivative of Planck's Constant (h-bar) in this when you're beyond the event horizon which is where this equation operates. I didn't get an answer.

I've been drinking again. Plus I've not been out of the house for several days and I'm going stir crazy.

Quite probably the strangest comment ever. Congrats Phil!
3dcandy
Quite probably the strangest comment ever. Congrats Phil!

Yeh, I take my evening meds, the pain goes away and then I start drinking and babbling astrophysics.

Studying the effects of my meds on my brain is really interesting as there are so many different ones affecting different systems. I did several IQ tests (proper ones) on different meds for fun. The difference in my IQ between fully medicated and not medicated is 32 points. I forget which way round though…. I think I was too medicated to remember.

I was drunk enough to send that question to an observatory.

We'll see if they respond.

In the sober light of only one beer, it's a good question.
philehidiot
The difference in my IQ between fully medicated and not medicated is 32 points. I forget which way round though…. I think I was too medicated to remember.
Chortle

Boffins
Issues of signal loss with previous ‘plasmonic’ metasurface materials were side-stepped by creating a new kind of metasurface made from etched dielectric materials atop of silicon wafers.
Gah! I knew it was etched dielectric materials! Seriously though, where's my “eh!?” emoji :D

Love these mad boffin articles. They go way over my head but are fascinating. And strangely, they make some sense too.