Nanocomposites for High-Speed Optical Modulators and Plasmonic Thermal Mid-Infrared Emitters
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractDemand for high-speed optical modulators and narrow-bandwidth infrared thermal emitters for numerous applications continues to rise and new optical devices are needed to deal with massive data flows, processing powers, and fabrication costs. Conventional techniques are usually hindered by material limitations or electronic interconnects and advances in organic nanocomposite materials and their integration into photonic integrated circuits (PICs) have been acknowledged as a promising alternative to single crystal techniques. The work presented in this thesis uses plasmonic and magneto-optic effects towards the development of novel optical devices for harnessing light and generating high bandwidth signals (> 40GHz) at room and cryogenic temperatures (4.2°K). Several publications have resulted from these efforts and are listed at the end of the abstract. In our first published research we developed a narrow-bandwidth mid-infrared thermal emitter using an Ag/dielectric/Ag thin film structure arranged in hexagonal planar lattice structures. PECVD produced nanoamorphous carbon (NAC) is used as a dielectric layer. Spectrally tunable (>2 μm) and narrow bandwidth (<0.5 μm) emission peaks in the range of 4-7μm were demonstrated by decreasing the resistivity of NAC from 10¹² and 10⁹ Ω.cm with an MoSi₂ dopant and increasing the emitter lattice constant from 4 to 7 μm. This technique offers excellent flexibility for developing cost-effective mid-IR sources as compared to costly fiber and quantum cascade lasers (QCLs). Next, the effect of temperature on the Verdet constant for cobalt-ferrite polymer nanocomposites was measured for a series of temperatures ranging from 40 to 200°K with a Faraday rotation polarimeter. No visual change was observed in the films during thermal cycling, and ~4x improvement was achieved at 40°K. The results are promising and further analysis is merited at 4.2°K to assess the performance of this material for cryogenic magneto-optic modulators for supercomputers. Finally, the dielectric constant and loss tangent of MAPTMS sol-gel films were measured over a wide range of microwave frequencies. The test structures were prepared by spin-coating sol-gel films onto metallized glass substrates. The dielectric properties of the sol-gel were probed with several different sets of coplanar waveguides (CPWs) electroplated onto sol-gel films. The dielectric constant and loss-tangent of these films were determined to be ~3.1 and 3 x 10⁻³ at 35GHz. These results are very promising indicating that sol-gels are viable cladding materials for high-speed electro-optic polymer modulators (>40GHz).
Degree ProgramGraduate College