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Research Abstracts Online
January - December 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Science and Engineering
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

PI: Mo Li

Exploiting Repulsive and Attractive Optical Forces in Advanced Nanophotonic Systems

The goal of this proposal is to engineer repulsive and attractive optical forces in advanced nanophotonic systems based on a silicon photonic platform, focusing on developing new photonic functionalities and demonstrating novel optomechanical effects. These researchers will pursue three main thrusts in this program by developing several novel nano-optomechanical (NOMS) devices. First, new functional optomechanical devices including all-optical relays, tunable filters, and reconfigurable directional couplers will be demonstrated and circuit-level integration of these devices will be developed. Secondly, unprecedented optomechanical effects including optical torque and coherently distributed field of optical force will be revealed in integrated devices for the first time. Thirdly, optical forces in the new plasmonic devices based on silicon-metal hybrid structure will be investigated, aiming to generate both attractive and repulsive forces and achieve force enhancement with a factor of more than ten from that of all-dielectric devices.

This research will lead to advances in both nanophotonics and micro/nano-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS) for a wide range of potential applications including RF/microwave photonics, adaptive photonics, MEMS and NEMS transduction, and biological and chemical sensing. The device implementation on a CMOS-compatible silicon photonic platform allows for large-scale integration of optomechanical devices on a wafer-scale that can be manufactured with a standard foundry, thus promises a bright future toward commercialization. The research involves modeling and verification of device designs using multi-scale numerical simulation of both mechanics and electromagnetics, and thus needs access to high performance computation facilities. The finite element method (using COMSOL) is employed to determine the mechanical modes and optical modes of the same device. Finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) is used to predict the propagation of optical modes and spectral response of the devices. Once the design is verified by simulation, the devices will be fabricated at University of Minnesota Nanofabrication Center.

Group Members

Yu Chen, Graduate Student
Huan Li, Graduate Student