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2016 Research Highlights

Taming Polarization: T-Guides and Topographically Anisotropic Photonics
Studying the polarization of light has been pursued for over two centuries, since Étienne Malus did the first related observations using a birefringent calcite crystal in 1808. Nowadays, most people have at least heard of “polarized sunglasses” -- an 80-year-old invention. Engineering the polarization properties of guided waves in integrated photonic devices, however, has not been as easy. For starters, optical waveguides are, in general, not that sensitive to polarization. In symmetric slab waveguides, for example, the transverseelectric (TE) and transverse-magnetic (TM) modes always coexist and single-polarization behavior is not possible. The single-mode single-polarization (SMSP) property exists in asymmetric slab waveguides, but occurs in a tiny wavelength range very close to the cutoff . The constraints relax a bit more in 2-D waveguides. more...
Self-Contained On-chip Integrated Sensor of Biomolecular or Chemical Agents
Highly portable compact integrated sensors that are capable of fast response times are very attractive and in great demand for many applications in the medical field as well as for homeland security purposes. In order to have sensor modules that are fully integrated on-chip, it is imperative that both active and passive devices be compatible and easily implemented using conventional device fabrication techniques. Such devices include among others, a broad spectrum continuously scanning laser diode, an integrated photodetector, and an optical waveguide integrated sensor, as well as a compatible system for microfluidic channels. more...
Nonlinear interactions and supercontinuum generation in multimode optical fibers
Optical supercontinuum (SC) results from the synergy of several nonlinear and linear processes, all acting together. Supercontinuum generation is these days finding applications in biomedical imaging, optical metrology, spectroscopy, and sensing, to mention a few. In this regard, single-mode photonic crystal fibers with pre-engineered dispersion characteristics are currently commercially used in implementing spatially coherent ultrabright SC sources, spanning the wavelength range from ultraviolet to the mid-infrared. Given that most SC sources have so far relied almost exclusively on single mode or few mode fiber technologies, it will not be long before limits are reached in terms of output power capabilities, especially for applications where high spectral power densities are required. A possible avenue to overcome these hurdles could be through the use of large-area multimode fibers (MMFs). more...
Engineering a nanoscale plasmonic sensor pixel
The advent of plasmonics has enabled the focusing of visible light down to few-nanometer spot sizes, more than an order of magnitude below the diff raction limit. This extreme focusing enables the optical probing of volumes as small as a thousandth of an att oliter (10-24 m3), enabling biochemical sensors that operate at the few-molecule level even in high-concentration solutions. To enable practical plasmonic sensors, such nanoscale sensing structures should be chemically and structurally stable, as well as easily optically accessible. A recent study by the NanoPhotonics and Near-field Optics Group demonstrates a low-cost, stable nanoscale sensing pixel design that could enable ultrasensitive plasmonic sensor arrays. more...
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