National Science Foundation awarded Etaphase $750,000 for their Phase II SBIR entitled “Enabling Ultra-Compact Photonic Integrated Circuits with Designed Disordered Dielectrics.”
The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project is to allow the Internet infrastructure to keep up with explosive growth demand. A core aspect of Internet operational viability is switching speed of optical devices at various points of the transmission, storage, calculation, and access chain. Current technologies are not poised to be able to meet the speed and stability needs of the projected growth in Internet data volumes and access speed requirements. These are currently growing well beyond a Moore’s Law pace. Needed is a disruptive approach to optical switching that will allow data management to keep pace with market needs. Ability to delivery this essential capability will provide not only essential international leadership in internet services, but also avail companies involved in the innovation to make a substantial commercial impact directly for their shareholders and to those of their partners and affiliates.
This Small Business Innovation Research phase II project is an effort to cross the chasm between fundamental new physics insights relating to the structure of matter and an aggressive approach to commercializing ‘Semiconductors of Light’ in an emerging market for high density optical interconnects priced for datacenters. Until recently, the only known photonic bandgap solids were photonic crystal structures consisting of regularly repeating, orderly lattices of dielectric materials. It was generally assumed that crystal order was essential to have photonic bandgaps. This longstanding assumption is now known to be false. New photonic bandgap structures, characterized by suppressed density fluctuations (hyperuniformity), include disordered structures that are isotropic. This means that light propagates the same way through the photonic solid independent of direction (which is impossible for a photonic crystal). While the layout of waveguides in conventional photonic crystal and quasi crystal photonic bandgap materials is tightly-constrained to follow characteristic crystal axes, the layout rules for hyper uniform disordered solid waveguides have no such fundamental constraints. The universal protocol and highly-efficient computational framework covering the full range of photonic crystal, quasi crystal , and hyper uniform disordered solid-based photonic bandgaps will be generalized to a broad class of critically important photonic components by the application of a powerful new gradient-free optimization methods.