Micro- and nano-periodic-structure-based devices for laser beam control
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With the progress of microfabrication and nanofabrication technologies, there has been a reawakened interest in the possibility of controlling the propagation of light in various materials periodically structured at a scale comparable to, or slightly smaller than the wavelength. We can now engineer materials with periodic structures to implement a great variety of optical phenomena. These include well known effects, such as dispersing a variety of wavelength to form a spectrum and diffracting light and controlling its propagation directions, to new ones such as prohibiting the propagation of light in certain directions at certain wavelengths and localizing light with defects in some artificially synthesized dielectric materials. Advances in this field have had tremendous impact on modern optical and photonic technologies. This doctoral research was aimed at investigating some of the physics and applications of periodic structures for building blocks of the optical communication and interconnection system. Particular research emphasis was placed on the exploitation of innovative periodic structure-based optical and photonic devices featuring better functionality, higher performance, more compact size, and easier fabrication. Research topics extended from one-dimensional periodic-structure-based wavelength-division-multiplexing (WDM) optical interconnects (beam wavelength selection devices), and liquid crystal beam steerers (beam steering devices), to two-dimensional periodic-structure-based silicon photonic-crystal thermo-optic and electro-optic modulators (beam switching devices). This research was specifically targeted to seek novel and effective solutions to some long-standing technical problems, such as the limited wavelength coverage of coarse WDM devices, small bandwidth of highly dispersed dense WDM devices, low deflection efficiency of high-resolution liquid crystal beam steerers, slow switching speed, large device size, and high power consumption of silicon optical modulators, among others. For each subtopic, research challenges were presented and followed by the proposed solutions with extensive theoretical analysis. The proposals were then verified by experimental implementations. Experimental results were carefully interpreted and the future improvements were also discussed.