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Microfluidics

Printing integrated photonic circuits; lab-on-a-chip technology; microfluidic devices for tuning photonic circuits.

Printing integrated photonic circuits; lab-on-a-chip technology; microfluidic devices for tuning photonic circuits.

The semiconductor industry today is incredibly developed and can be leveraged into producing photonics chips using the techniques already available in the production of electronics. This is dubbed silicon photonics and is an area of intense research within the field of optics. Silicon photonics research and development promise powerful integrated optics platforms where high-bandwidth devices can transition from prototype to production very quickly.

As these photonic circuits grow and complexity however, manufacturing variability can drastically alter the performance of the circuit. The common means of solving this problem is through tuning the circuit post fabrication using heating pads built into the circuit. By heating select areas of the chip the effective index of refraction of the waveguide changes. This can be power costly and increases the complexity of a circuit.

As a research group we are currently working on another method involving the use of microfluidic chips that can be 3D printed directly onto a silicon photonics chip. Microfluidic chips precisely control the flow of various fluids at sub-millimeter precision. These chips can be used to pass fluid with varying indices of refraction over the waveguides of our photonics circuit, changing the effective index of refraction of the waveguide and thereby tuning the circuit.