Reconfigurability of photonic integrated circuits (PICs) has become increasingly important due to the growing demands for electronic–photonic systems on a chip driven by emerging applications, including neuromorphic computing, quantum information, and microwave photonics. Success in these fields usually requires highly scalable photonic switching units as essential building blocks. Current photonic switches, however, mainly rely on materials with weak, volatile thermo‐optic or electro‐optic modulation effects, resulting in large footprints and high energy consumption. As a promising alternative, chalcogenide phase‐change materials (PCMs) exhibit strong optical modulation in a static, self‐holding fashion, but the scalability of present PCM‐integrated photonic applications is still limited by the poor optical or electrical actuation approaches. Here, with phase transitions actuated by in situ silicon PIN diode heaters, scalable nonvolatile electrically reconfigurable photonic switches using PCM‐clad silicon waveguides and microring resonators are demonstrated. As a result, intrinsically compact and energy‐efficient switching units operated with low driving voltages, near‐zero additional loss, and reversible switching with high endurance are obtained in a complementary metal‐oxide‐semiconductor (CMOS)‐compatible process. This work can potentially enable very large‐scale CMOS‐integrated programmable electronic–photonic systems such as optical neural networks and general‐purpose integrated photonic processors.
Microwave photonics uses light to carry and process microwave signals over a photonic link. However, light can instead be used as a stimulus to microwave devices that directly control microwave signals. Such optically controlled amplitude and phase-shift switches are investigated for use in reconfigurable microwave systems, but they suffer from large footprint, high optical power level required for switching, lack of scalability and complex integration requirements, restricting their implementation in practical microwave systems. Here, we report Monolithic Optically Reconfigurable Integrated Microwave Switches (MORIMSs) built on a CMOS compatible silicon photonic chip that addresses all of the stringent requirements. Our scalable micrometer-scale switches provide higher switching efficiency and require optical power orders of magnitude lower than the state-of-the-art. Also, it opens a new research direction on silicon photonic platforms integrating microwave circuitry. This work has important implications in reconfigurable microwave and millimeter wave devices for future communication networks.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Nature Publishing Group
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Scientific Reports
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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