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RIT Photonics

Research

Development of the next large space telescope
Development of the next large space telescope

CfD Director Figer Co-chaired a NASA technology working group with Eric Schinhelm (Southwest Research Institute) to assess the current state of the art in detectors for ultraviolet, optical, and infrared wavelengths. This activity is a precursor to the plans for the further development of competing technologies to fly on the next large space telescope after the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The new telescope has a notional design and is generically being called the Large Ultraviolet Optical Infrared Survey (LUVOIR) telescope. Just as with previous NASA missions, this somewhat awkward name will be likely be replaced with a name that memorializes a prominent figure in the advancement of science.

The LUVOIR point design considers the use of a large (8-12 m) primary mirror that capitalizes on the emerging heavy lift capabilities, such as the Big Fucking Rocket (BFR) to be made by SpaceX and the Space Launch System (SLS) being developed by NASA and partners. Just like JWST, the telescope will be launched in a furled configuration to be expanded and phased on orbit.

The detector technology working group solicited information concerning the technology readiness level of approximately a dozen competing detector types that could fly on LUVOIR, either in the wide area imaging camera or the coronagraph instrument. For most science applications on the proposed telescope, detectors will need to have very low noise. In fact, for the goal of measuring the atmospheres of exoplanets, the detectors will need to have single photon sensitivity.

Integrated Quantum Photonics for Photon-Ion Entanglement
Integrated Quantum Photonics for Photon-Ion Entanglement

The primary objective of this project is the realization of an integrated photonics platform compatible with photon-ion entanglement. The platform will consist of photon sources and entangling circuits that interface with the visible/UV wavelengths of ion (such as Yb+, Ca+, Be+, Mg+, Sr+, Ba+, Zn+, Hg+ and Cd+) transitions. The challenge with realizing such a platform is that integrated photonic chips are not well developed at visible wavelengths because of the traditional focus on telecom wavelength compatibility. We are developing a platform that does operate at short wavelengths by using Aluminum Nitride (AlN), which is a large bandgap semiconductor that is transparent to the deep-UV. In parallel, we are leveraging our successes in quantum integrated photonics in telecom-compatible platforms, particularly silicon photonics. This will allow rapid validation of high performance photon sources, entanglement circuits and quantum sensors. These circuits will then be transitioned to the new visible/UV platform, or interfaced with ions directly by using frequency conversion.

Nanostructured Photovoltaics & Photonics
Nanostructured Photovoltaics & Photonics

The world demand for, and consumption of, energy is dramatically increasing, with an increasing demand for renewable non-fossil based sources of electricity. As well, there is an ever growing demand for increased power and sophistication in the satellite systems orbiting our planet, driven by our increasing reliance on high speed communication and data links.  The conversion of light from the sun into electrical energy, using photovoltaics, is one avenue that can be explored to meet these challenges both on the earth and in space.  The mission of our research group is to accelerate scientific breakthroughs in the discovery of nanoscale materials and structures that will advance the frontier of the conversion of light to electricity. Our focus is new materials synthesis, device modeling and simulation, solar cell device fabrication and demonstrating proof-of-principle of devices that will deliver a major boost to the world’s pursuit of innovative and transformative energy conversion products.  Our team’s expertise lies in vapor phase epitaxy (VPE) of III-V photovoltaic and photonic devices and nanostructures, bandgap engineering using epitaxial nanostructures, novel photovoltaic devices such as the intermediate band solar cell, photovoltaic characterization, simulation, design and testing.

Engineering Verification Test (EVT) Station
Engineering Verification Test (EVT) Station

A collaborative effort between Columbia University, RIT, and Precision Optical Transceivers, this project will develop testing capabilities for the Testing Assembly and Packaging (TAP) Hub that AIM Photonics is building in downtown Rochester, NY. The EVT is a generalized testing tool for validating functionality and performance specifications of integrated silicon circuits, such as optical switches, transceivers, photonic biosensors, lasers, etc. It is a crucial element of AIM Photonics and represents a much-anticipated capability that customers will use to prove the validity of their circuit designs.

The EVT system will first be used for the testing of a C form-factor pluggable (CFP) based package that is currently being developed at Columbia University for the purpose of controlling complex photonic integrated circuits (PICs), including high speed transceivers and photonic switch fabrics. The EVT will later be able to test a quad small form-factor pluggable (QSFP) based package that is being developed by Precision Optical Transceivers. As the project proceeds, work will continue to be done to create software for functional and performance tests in order to validate the EVT station for photonic switches and more.

Selective Area Epitaxy of III-V Nanocrystals on Graphene and M