Phase change materials as functional photonic elements in future computing and displays

Harish Bhaskaran


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Date: May 15, 2019


Photonics has always been the technology of the future. Light is faster, can multiplex etc. have all been “good” arguments for several decades and the ushering in of optical computing has perpetually been just a few years away. However, over the last decade, with the advent of micro-and nanofabrication techniques and phenomenal advances in photonics, that era seems to have finally arrived. The ability to create integrated optical circuits on a chip is near. But (and yes, there’s always a but) you need “functional” materials that can be used to control and manipulate this flow of information. In electronics, doping silicon results in one of the most versatile functional materials ever employed by humanity. And that can used to efficiently route electrical signals. How do you do that optically? I hope to convince you that whatever route photonics takes, a class of materials known as phase change materials, will play a key role in its commercialization. These materials can be addressed electrically, and whilst this can be used to control optical signals on photonic circuits this can also be used to create displays and smart windows. In this talk, I hope to give a whistle-stop tour of these applications of these materials with a view towards their near-term applications in displays, and their longer-term potential ranging from integrated photonic memories to machine-learning hardware components.

Created: Tuesday, May 28th, 2019