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cmos-compatible nonlinear integrated Mid-IR frequency COMBs

Final Report Summary - MIRCOMB (cmos-compatible nonlinear integrated Mid-IR frequency COMBs)

The project is directed towards the achievement of fundamental science goals that will lead to novel CMOS compatible integrated photonic platform for applications in the mid infrared (mid-IR, wavelength range between 2 and 10 μm). This wavelength domain is of great interest for a huge range of applications such as medical and environmental sensors, security and astronomy, which require compact and low cost optical devices and, most importantly, sources that are widely tunable or yield a broadband emission. The targeted mid-IR photonic integrated circuit–based on a dense integration of an array of individual mid-IR sources, waveguides, spectrometers, sensing architecture–will allow for highly parallelized sensing with an increased sensitivity and more acute spectral identification of bio/chemical agents.
To achieve this vision, the MIRCOMB objectives are to create and develop a dedicated platform perfectly suited for the mid-IR range based on an untapped material (SiGe/Si) in the context of mid-IR integrated nonlinear optics. MIRCOMB focuses on the creation of the essential ingredient, i.e. broadband Mid-IR wavelength sources. The second phase of the project will be directed towards the creation of a Mid-IR integrated chip for fast, sensitive and accurate Mid-IR spectroscopy by combining these nonlinear mid-IR light sources with a mid-IR sensing photonic architecture.
Advances have been made in all aspects of the projects, including the design and modeling of our nonlinear mid-IR devices in a SiGe platform, the fabrication of these devices, and most importantly the demonstration of the generation broadband mid-IR light with these integrated sources and the first sensing demonstration.
Highlights include:
i) the first report of experimental investigation of the nonlinear optical response of SiGe waveguides in the actual mid-IR range (from 3.25 um up to 4.75 um) by measuring self-phase modulation (SPM) of femtosecond [1] and picosecond [2] optical pulses and the nonlinear transmission of these waveguides at high optical intensities (up to 100 GW/cm2).
ii) The first demonstration of mid-IR supercontinuum generation in a CMOS-based platform (in Silicon on Sapphire) spanning more than an octave.
iii) The first demonstration of a bright mid-IR supercontinuum in a CMOS-based platform (SiGe) covering the entire molecular fingerprint region (from 3 to 8.5 um).
In terms of benefits to my career, I now hold a prestigious CNRS permanent position and I am the coordinator of a french-funded grant (600keuros) awarded thanks to the results obtained during MIRCOMB.
Thanks to the Marie-Curie contribution, I managed to develop the emerging mid-IR integrated photonics within my laboratory and make it one of the main “flagship project” within the new framework agreement between INL and CEA-LETI (probably one of the most active world players in the field of Silicon photonics) and the newly established International Associated Laboratory in Photonics between France and Australia (ALPhFA2) that I coordinate involving 5 Australian universities (Macquarie, ANU, RMIT, Sydney University, Swinburne University) and four French photonics laboratory (INL, Fresnel, FEMTO, C2N). Note that a letter of intent was signed between CNRS and the consortium of Australian Universities the 2nd of May 2018 during the presidential visit of president Macron in Australia. Finally I would like to stress that this grant helped me in increasing my international visibility as I was invited in 4 prestigious international conferences in 2015, and following our recent results one in Decembre 2017, one in Septembre 2018 and one in February 2019.
It also enhanced my ability to make major contributions to European and International consortia as I was invited to be part of two different European consortium to submit two FET projects and one Marie-Curie COFUND (on the reserve list).
MIRCOMB has in addition to its fundamental science goals, some very strong applications drive. The realization of a very specific chip-based mid-IR comb demonstrator will provide a first prototype to be readily tested by potential spectroscopic end-users. Depending on the outcome of these objectives, we will aim at demonstrating the usefulness of this compact source for sensing applications such as breath analysis, airport security screening or food quality monitoring and evaluate its suitability to be monolithically integrated with a mid-IR sensing photonic architecture for creating unprecedented compact, sensitive, accurate mid-IR spectroscopic systems for the next generation of environmental and medical diagnostic sensors.