The goal of this proposal is to assess the viability of silicon-sensitised erbium doped materials systems for optical device applications. Our work will focus on silicon nanoclusters of 2-4nm diameter that possess novel optical properties, including the ability to efficiently transfer optical excitation to nearby luminescent species. We aim to exploit the optical sensitisation effects of these nanoclusters, which allow us to couple into Er ions far more effectively than is possible in conventional rare ear th-doped glasses. The broad absorption spectrum of the nanoclusters and their very large excitation cross-section will enable us to develop planar optical devices that are pumped in a top down configuration using cheap broad-band sources such as LEDs.
Compared to the expensive lasers currently used, we stand to achieve a potential 100-fold reduction in pump power costs by deploying LEDs instead, opening the door for such devices to find applications in local area networks. An amplifier in a waveguide geometry can also allow the fabrication of complex integrated optical circuits, and combine them with silicon technology to achieve electro-optical signal conversion. The erbium-doped silicon-rich silica material will be first characterised and the transfer mechanism will be studied; the fabrication parameters will be varied in order to optimise the efficiency and reduce possible excited state absorption processes. Then, channel waveguides will be characterised (optical gain, scattering, absorption...) under different pumping conditions. The final aim of the project is to demonstrate LED-pumped waveguide amplifiers and lasers in the 1.5 micron range.
Call for proposal
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