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WP1: Hybrid materials for smart photonic devices

Friday 22 February 2013, by Alexandra Peereboom

Work package 1 – Hybrid materials for smart photonic devices
The main objective of this work package is the development of novel photonic materials that underlie the smart photonic devices envisaged in this project. The basic philosophy followed to enhance device functionality is that we combine established technology platforms with new materials. The IAP consortium has an extensive range of such platforms (integrated photonics, plastic p prototyping, optical fibres, …) and materials (colloidal quantum dots, liquid crystals, amorphous Si, …) at its disposal and their combination is aimed at breakthroughs in three different directions:

1.1 Functionalized integrated photonics. Similar to electronics, integration of photonic circuits on a single chip is a key enabling step in the development of smart, multifunctional devices. Unfortunately, materials that are good for photonic integration (Si, Si3N4, …) perform poorly in terms of generation and manipulation of light. A way out of this is combining them with a second material platform that provides the required functionality, such as III-V integration with silicon-on-insulator. The starting point of this research task is that much can be gained – in terms of cost and functionality – by combining technology platforms for integrated photonics with a broad range of alternative materials platforms such as colloidal quantum dots, inorganic thin films, amorphous Si, liquid crystals and graphene. For all these materials, this requires (1) developing appropriate integration strategies that optimize the overlap between the guided light and the functional material and (2) understand the basic properties of the resulting hybrid waveguides.

1.2 Functionalized holey crystal fibres. Optical fibres are used to guide light over long distances. Although very different from integrated photonics, the combination with a second materials platform brings also in this case enhanced functionality at a lower cost. Typical examples involve the impregnation of holey crystal fibres with colloidal nanoparticles or quantum dots, which could act as saturable absorbers or light emitters. Achieving this requires (1) a reliable impregnation technology and (2) an understanding of the characteristics of nanoparticle-functionalized optical fibres.

1.3 Hybrid materials for spatially directing light. Sending light in a desired direction is a key element of fundamental photonic devices such as displays, lighting or photovoltaic cells. Recent evolutions in these fields require smart components that emit or transmit light in well-defined directions. The starting point of this work package is that this can be achieved by combining (1) specifically structured substrates or hosts such as plastic waveguides or plasmonic nanoantenna arrays, (2) tailor-made emitters like anisotropic, oriented quantum rods or dyes and (3) liquid crystals. This will be worked out for the case of solar concentrators and beam steering, where in all cases the research covers simulations, material or device characterization and demonstrator development.