Osgood Featured in The Record
"Scientists Seek a Chip that Bonds Light, Electricity: Technology Could Simplify Fiber Optics Applications".
By Bob Nelson
In laboratories at Columbia, scientists are bonding light and electricity.
They have taken the first important step toward creating a microchip that combines electronics and its optical equivalent, photonics. The technology could simplify fiber optic communications and lead to the development of such miniaturized optical devices as tiny lasers and implantable medical sensors.
The Columbia scientists, working with colleagues from S.U.N.Y.-Albany, have bonded an ultra-thin sheet of magnetic garnet, a photonic material that transmits light in only one direction, to a semiconductor, a component of microelectric circuitry.
"Ultimately, manufacturers will be able to combine optical and electronic capacity on the same silicon crystals, which are superior electronics platforms," said Richard M. Osgood, Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering and professor of applied physics and co-author of the research.
A crucial step was slicing an ultra-thin sheet—9 microns, or millionths of a meter, thick—from the magnetic garnet crystal, the subject of a scientific paper published in the Nov. 3 issue of Applied Physics Letters.
Columbia has applied for a patent on the new technology.
Osgood and the co-inventor of the new technology, Miguel Levy, senior research scientist at Columbia, have already begun to receive requests for single-crystal magnetic garnet films from other laboratories around the world, for such diverse research applications as microwave electronics and optical isolators. Columbia is the only institution that can produce the thin films.
The work took place at Columbia's Microelectronics Sciences Laboratory and at the Columbia Radiation Laboratory, both in the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. The research group included two materials scientists at the State University of New York at Albany, Hassaram Bahkru and Atul Kumar, who assisted in processing the garnet used in the S.U.N.Y.-Albany's ion accelerator.
"I'm excited that this technology can be used to build a whole new range of miniaturized systems, from medical sensors to ultra-small, powerful laser systems," Osgood said.