Heterogeneously integrated piezo-electro-mechanical lasers for LiDAR and 6G cellular networks

01 February 2023 → 31 January 2026
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Nanophotonics
photonics lasers
Project description

Highly coherent – that is narrow linewidth - laser sources are at the heart of numerous applications: ranging from terabit per second coherent communication, LiDAR for autonomous driving or driver assistance, to fibre sensing or optical atomic clocks. Yet, in contrast to MEMS sensors, or electroni circuits, the manufacturing of narrow linewidth lasers is not suitable for high volume; fiber lasers, the workhorse for narrow linewidth, rely on bulk fibre based optical
components assembled manually. In recent years, triggered by new applications in particular in FMCW LiDAR, the demand for integrated lasers that combine the coherence of a narrow linewidth fibre laser with high frequency agility and fast tuning, and can be manufactured wafer-scale in large volume at low cost has become a technological bottleneck. Here we overcome these challenges and will demonstrate for the first time a mass manufacturable, compact, wafer-scale narrow linewidth laser with unprecedentedly agile tuning and precise laser tuning. To achieve this novel technology, we will employ recent
findings on a hybrid electro-opto—mechanical integrated laser obtained in the FET Proactive project “Hybrid Optomechanical Technologies.” To combine the conflicting properties of ultrahigh coherence and fast and precise tuning, we will combine sub-micron piezo-electrical actuators that rely on AlN – a proven MEMS technology - that combine an electrical and mechanical engineered degrees of freedom with silicon nitride ultra-low loss integrated
photonic circuits. The combined hybrid opto-electro-mechanical device exhibits unique performance characteristics in terms of linewidth and frequency agility not attained anywhere to date, making them ideal sources for LiDAR.