Mookherjea’s award carries with it a 5-year, $400,000 grant in support of his work in developing chip-scale nonlinear optics utilizing micro-resonators and coupled resonators. The research may eventually enable ultra-high-speed optical networking functionality to be performed by end-user devices rather than only at the network core, as is currently being done in very expensive gateways and routers.
ECE Professor Shayan Mookherjea Receives NSF CAREER Award
Converting high-speed data encoded in optical signals from one wavelength of light to another wavelength – on a compact microchip – would allow handheld application users to “tune” their optical communications signals in order to get out of the way of other users, explained Mookherjea, who is actively involved in the UCSD division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2).
At the heart of the drive towards the chip-scale miniaturization of modern nonlinear optics are resonators – mirror-enclosed volumes in which light bounces back and forth, enhancing wavelength conversions or other nonlinear optical phenomena. Coupling resonators for the purposes of nonlinear optics is a new approach taken on by Mookherjea. This approach allows wavelength-by-wavelength control of the optical phase and the velocity of light propagation, which are key ingredients in making nonlinear optics efficient in compact spaces.
“To really go for the jugular, one must research not only the systems aspects of the problem but also the materials properties, fabrication tools, and the fundamental design of the optical waveguides and resonators,” said Mookherjea.