Qianhuan Yu, a Ph.D. student in the University of Virginia’s Charles L. Brown Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, earned a best student paper award at the 2019 OSA Integrated Photonics Research Silicon and Nanophotonics meeting. Photonics is the use of light for communications and geospatial applications traditionally addressed through electronics, including telecommunications, data communications, laser-based radar, precise positioning and sensing.
Yu’s research overcame a limitation in a promising material platform upon which to build miniature and reliable photonic integrated circuits, specifically silicon nitride. This material offers low light attenuation and wide transparency, which is better than the widely used silicon-on-insulator. However, this silicon nitride is not used to build lasers and detectors because of its dielectric and amorphous properties. Yu developed a wafer bonding technique to integrate highly efficient light detectors on the silicon nitride platform.
Moving forward, Yu and his co-authors will adopt Yu’s technique to build photonic integrated circuits used in larger systems for applications such as detecting chemicals through sensitive laser spectroscopy and enabling high-precision light detection and ranging (LiDAR). Yu co-authored the paper, “High-Responsivity Photodiodes Heterogeneously Integrated on Silicon Nitride Waveguides,” with electrical and computer engineering postdoctoral research associates Nan Ye and Linli Xie, research scientist Keye Sun, and fellow Ph.D. student Junyi Gao. His academic advisor, electrical and computer engineering professor ANDREAS BELING, was also a co-author, along with Kartik Srinivasan from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Michael Zervas, Gabriele Navickaite and Michael Geiselmann from Ligentec, a Switzerland-based manufacturer of photonic integrated circuits.