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The Washington Research Foundation Fellowship

Alexander Spott, Physics, ACMS, 2010-11 WRFF

Though my interest in science and engineering has always been apparent, my particular interests were unclear when I first entered the University of Washington. After much deliberation, I entered the electrical engineering department in my sophomore year. Intending to gain some research experience, I joined the UW Nanophotonics Group to work with Professor Hochberg on silicon photonics. I quickly became immersed in the lab and after two quarters I decided to take the following year off of school to work for the lab full-time. During this time, I was able to better identify my research and academic interests and have since changed my major to physics.

By being able to devote all of my time to research for a full year, I was able to take a larger role in our mid-infrared waveguiding project. That year, I helped successfully demonstrate the first waveguides for wavelengths as long as 4.5 µm. I have continued this project since, and took the lead in our recent demonstration of the first ring resonators on silicon for wavelengths near 5.5 µm. Over the summer, I was given the chance to present my work at the 7th International Conference on Group IV Photonics in Beijing, China. I intend to continue work on mid-infrared silicon photonics in a PhD program in graduate school.

Mentor: Michael Hochberg, Electrical Engineering

Project Title: Silicon Nanophotonic Waveguiding for the Mid-Infared

Abstract: It has been demonstrated that silicon nanophotonic waveguides can be used to construct all of the components of a photonic data transmission system on a single chip. Complex electro-photonic integrated circuits can be constructed from the integration of nanophotonic waveguides and CMOS electronics. It has also been shown that the high field confinement of silicon nanoscale guides enables a variety of new applications, including chip-scale nonlinear optics, as well as biosensors and light-force activated devices. Currently, the majority of experiments with silicon waveguides have been at wavelengths in the near-infrared between 1.1-2µm. Here I discuss our recent demonstration of the world's first single-mode silicon nano-waveguides at mid-infrared wavelengths as long as 5.5pm. This idea has appeared in theoretical literature, but experimental realization has been elusive. I have further helped demonstrate the first working ring resonators at these wavelengths. These results represent the first practical integrated waveguide system for the mid-infrared in silicon, and enable a range of new applications and potential for further development.