UCL academics win grant to make key components for Photonic Integrated Chips (PICs)

Key components for photonic integrated chips (PICs) will be developed in a joint EPSRC funded research project between UCL and the University of Southampton, involving two academics associated with the Centre for Doctoral Training - Dr Tony Kenyon and Dr Huiyun Liu.


Optical buffering is a much sought-after function, both in fibre-optic networks and photonic integrated chips (PICs). The primary function of an optical buffer is to store optical data without having to resort to OEO (optical-electronic-optical) conversion. Moreover, continuously tunable optical delay lines or buffers are key components for many other photonic applications, including optically steered phase array antennas, LIDAR, optical logic, and optical coherence tomography. To date, however, solutions that have been put forward for realising this important function are still somewhat limited.

Two academics from UCL involved with the Centre for Doctoral Training - Dr Tony Kenyon (PI) and Dr Huiyun Liu (CI) have been awarded an EPSRC grant worth £636,226 in collaboration with the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton. They will take a radically new approach for a continuously tunable optical buffer: a dual waveguide design in which the optical pulse propagation time delay can be varied continuously and by a large amount by changing the coupling distance between the two waveguides. This will be achieved by micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS). UCL’s role in the project will be to fabricate the MEMS devices according to specifications developed by the Southampton team.