Giving to CREOL CREOL, The College of Optics & Photonics

Optical Imaging and Sensing Faculty Candidate Seminar:"Chip-scale platforms for long-wavelength nanophotonics: frequency combs, spectrometers, and beyond" by David Burghoff

Thursday, February 15, 2018 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
CREOL Room 103

David Burghoff
Postdoctoral Fellow
Research Laboratory of Electronics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Optical sensors and systems have a unique ability to reshape the world, and long-wavelength light in particular has enormous untapped potential. Mid-infrared and terahertz photonics could address some of our most vexing challenges in medicine, energy, transportation, and security, but progress in this area has been hampered by a lack of compact sources. Although quantum cascade structures—semiconductor nanostructures whose optical properties are determined by design, not nature—have long been able to act as compact narrowband sources of light at mid-infrared and terahertz wavelengths, many practical applications require precise and scalable broadband operation.

Fortunately, the large optical nonlinearity of a quantum cascade structure enables a wide range of nonlinear devices, including broadband frequency combs. Optical frequency combs are light sources whose spectra consist of a large number of evenly-spaced lines, and their extraordinary properties make them attractive for a number of consumer applications, including high-performance dual comb spectrometers-on-a-chip and lidar. In this talk, I will discuss my development of the first terahertz laser frequency combs based on quantum cascade structures, terahertz sources that combine the compactness of semiconductor lasers with the coherence & broadband output of a mode-locked laser.

In addition, I will discuss my work showing how these devices can be used to coherently measure high signal-to-noise ratio terahertz spectra in just a few microseconds, using only chip-scale components. With signal processing, sensible spectra can even be measured with combs that are far less stable than are traditionally considered viable for coherent spectroscopy, even lasers operated in pulsed mode. Because these systems require no stabilization and no extraneous optical elements, they will enable the next generation of optical sensors and even complete spectrometers on-a-chip.


David Burghoff is a postdoctoral fellow in the Research Laboratory of Electronics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received his bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, his master’s from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His awards include MIT's Jin Au Kong Outstanding Thesis Award and the Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Fellowship. His research focuses on devices and systems that blend quantum nanostructure engineering, ultrafast & nonlinear optoelectronics, and integrated long-wavelength photonics, with applications in sensors, healthcare, energy, security, and transportation. His broader ambition is to usher in an era of ubiquitous mid-infrared and terahertz photonics, and to use these technologies to address some of our most pressing challenges.

For additional information:

Shin-Tson Wu

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