PhD Defense: "Sub-wavelength Metal Gratings for In-plane Lasers and Integrated Optical Elements"

Erica Lively

February 13th (Monday), 12:00pm
Engineering Science Building (ESB), Rm 1001

Sub-wavelength periodic metal structures are currently being explored by many branches of photonics for enhanced light control on the nano-scale. Metal holes or slits have shown promise in plasmonic application areas like mirrors, couplers, waveguides, and lenses. These structures are also beginning to making a large impact on many emerging areas in photonics such as slow light, left-handed materials, and sensing. While metal and semiconductor integrated devices have rapidly advanced in sophistication over the last decade, few have yet to address the major challenges associated with transitioning from individual devices that demonstrate basic, physical operation to devices with potential for current and near-future telecommunications applications. Outstanding novel devices using metals have been presented, but they are missing key features that allow them to be integrated into photonic circuits. As we begin bridging the gap between simple, passive devices fabricated with traditional optical lithography and basic liftoff techniques to more sophisticated, sub-wavelength scale active devices, we focus on sub-wavelength metal gratings with design choices made to favor integration, both with respect to current state of the art optical components and fabrication on the nano- and micro-scale.

In this dissertation, we present a theoretical and experimental study of potential applications of sub-wavelength metal gratings in photonic integrated circuits. We consider on-chip slow light functionality and determine that the greatest near-term impact of sub-wavelength metal gratings can be made in the area of on-chip, in-plane metal mirrors. We demonstrate the operation of a distributed Bragg reflector (DBR) laser with two metal grating mirrors operating on an InP-based materials platform. We account for future design considerations of scale and polarization to show that there is strong potential for integrating sub-wavelength metal gratings into current photonic integrated circuits.

About Erica Lively:

Erica Lively is pursuing a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at the University of California-Santa Barbara. She obtained her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Idaho in 2005 and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of California-Santa Barbara in 2007. Erica was a Graduate Fellow from 2007 to 2010 at the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at UCSB. She was also a Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Academy of Engineering in 2011. Erica’s research interests include nanophotonics, as well as the political and societal implications of science and technology.

Hosted by: Professor Dan Blumenthal