Tobias Kippenberg awarded SNSF Advanced Grant

Tobias Kippenberg © 2023 EPFL

Tobias Kippenberg © 2023 EPFL

Professor Tobias J. Kippenberg at EPFL’s Institute of Physics (IPHYS) has been awarded an Advanced Grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Due to Switzerland's status as a non-associated third country in Horizon Europe, the SNSF has launched the transitional measure “SNSF Advanced Grants 2022” on behalf of the federal government. The call was aimed at researchers who wish to carry out innovative, high-risk research in Switzerland.

The SNSF has now announced the 18 awardees of the 2022 call for Advanced Grants. Among them is Professor Tobias Kippenberg at the Institute of Physics (IPHYS), with his project 'Hybrid nonlinear integrated photonic Circuits (HEROIC)'.

Project description

Over the past 20 years, integrated photonics has become a key ingredient to optical data communications. They have also become indispensable in large-scale data centers, replacing lossy and bandwidth-limited copper cables and allowing for fast and energy-efficient communication between servers. This revolution was made possible by compact transceivers based on silicon photonics that can transmit and receive data over short distances. However, silicon is not an ideal material for optics: it lacks a direct bandgap for light emission, exhibits strongly nonlinear losses such as two-photon absorption and subsequent free- carrier absorption that limit power handling, exhibits high propagation losses – even with the most advanced micro-electronic processing.

The “Hybrid nonlinear integrated photonic circuits” project will lay the foundation of a new generation of photonic integrated circuits, which use or contain one or more novel material platforms into a single “hybrid” system while exhibiting unprecedented low loss. Such hybrid integrated photonic devices will offer a compact form factor, wafer-scale manufacturability, and novel physical principles of light generation and amplification. Equally, such circuits will enable performance that is not possible today with currently existing technologies, either bulk component or fiber based, or using silicon photonics. The project will lay the technological foundation for much broader adoption of photonic integrated circuits beyond data centers for optical frequency metrology, optical AMO Physics, and integrated photonics in the UV, as well as contribute to a new generation of technology to make data center communication more efficient.

Such next-generation integrated photonic circuits have tremendous potential to allow for continuing the development of the next generation of energy efficient and high-bandwidth transceivers, which are urgently needed in data centers and HPC for AI accelerators, but can equally provide solutions for emerging applications, such as ranging (LiDAR) sensors, or information processing through hybrid computing in AI applications, as well as emerging quantum science and technology.