Silicon based mechanic-photonic wavelength converter for infrared photo detection

Significance Statement

The development of optical circuits integrated on silicon has been gaining significant momentum in the field of telecommunication. Silicon has for a long time been the major platform for electronics. Silicon is also perfect for photonics owing to its good thermos-dynamical, mechanical, and optical attributes. Above all, an array of semiconductor fabrication methods developed for silicon can be implemented for the fabrication of silicon Nano photonic devices. Moreover, silicon has a high refractive index that allows for the synthesis of high-Q nano cavities as well as low-loss waveguides.

Unfortunately, silicon has its own limitations and is not an effective material with regards to telecom-light detection due to the fact that it does not absorb light at a wavelength above 1µm. A number of methods have been proposed to mitigate this problem such as internal photoemission effect, sub-band gap photo-effect, two-photon absorption, and thermal nonlinear effect. In addition, the quantum efficiency of the above methods is still, low, and most of these methods have high noise levels owing to the generation and recombination of electron-hole pairs.

Researchers led by Professor Zeev Zalevsky at Bar Ilan University in Israel presented a new concept of a mechanical-photonic wavelength converter in silicon that could be implemented as an infrared detector not based on absorption. The device was designed for the conversion of amplitude modulated infrared wavelength of incidence into a different reference wavelength with the same amplitude modulation while the reference wavelength was below 1µm, and hence could be measured by a silicon detector. Their research work is published in peer-reviewed journal, Optics Communications.

The proposed mechanical-photonic wavelength converter uses an optical gradient forced initiated on a silicon Nano rod by electromagnetic field of incident illumination. When an infrared beam is focused on the surface filled with silicon Nano rods, then the photonic gradient force that is laterally directed results in a mechanical bending of the Nano rod. The gradient force is nearly not dependent of the wavelength; therefore, the sensitivity of the mechanical-photonic wavelength converter in nearly all spectral ranges is almost the same.

The proposed concept could realize ultra-wide band silicon photodetector and an ultrasensitive one. This was a significant step towards the development of an ultra-wideband camera. The author modelled and simulated the concept through Comsol and Matlab.

The research team matched the solution obtained from the Comsol Software with the modeling they independently did using Matlab. These two orthogonal methods to the problem confirmed the physics behind the proposed concept. The authors also performed fabrication validation of their designed. This was because the proposed device could not be realistic for practical applications. In their testing, the authors were able to detect a change in electrical attributes of the Nano capacitor versus the applied externa photonic stimulation.

Silicon based mechanic-photonic wavelength converter for infrared photo detection-Advances in Engineering

About the author

Zeev Zalevsky received his B.Sc. and direct Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Tel-Aviv University in 1993 and 1996 respectively. Zeev is currently a full Professor in the faculty of engineering in Bar-Ilan University, Israel. His major fields of research are optical super resolution, biomedical optics, nano-photonics and electro-optical devices.

Zeev has published more than 450 refereed journal papers, more than 270 conference proceeding papers, has more than 50 issued patents, 6 authored books, 3 books as an editor and 30 book chapters.

For his scientific activity Zeev has received many national and international prizes such as the Krill prize, the International Commission of Optics (ICO) prize and Abbe medal, the Juludan prize, the international SAOT (School for Advanced Optical Technologies) Young Researcher Prize, the Lean and Maria Taubenblatt Prize, the young investigator award in nanoscience and nanotechnology given by the Israel National Nanotechnology Initiative (INNI) together with the Ministry of Economics, the international Wearable Technologies (WT) Innovation World Cup 2012 Prize, the Image Engineering Innovation Award of the Society for Imaging Science and Technology (IS&T), the Outstanding Young Scientist Award (OYSA) of NANOSMAT, the Serial Innovator Award, SPIE Startup Challenge Prize,  IAAM Scientist Medal of 2017 and more. Zeev is a fellow of SPIE, OSA, EOS, IET, IOP and NANOSMAT.

Zeev also was and currently is the founder of several startup companies as Civcom, Explay, Xceed Imaging, Z Square, ContinUse Biometrics and LensFree.

About the author

Arkady Rudnitsky received his M.Sc. degree as a System Engineer from the Samara State Aviation University in 1995. He got his Ph.D. degree in study of all-optical logical gates from Tel-Aviv University in 2012. From 2001 he worked as a research engineer, optical engineer, physicist in several startup companies, and as researcher in laboratory of Professor Zeev Zalevsky in Bar Ilan University. Currently he is Senior optical design physicist at Align Technology ltd, Israel.

About the author

Konstantin Goulitski received his M.Sc. degree as an engineer-physicist from the Kazan State Technical University (Kazan Aircraft Institute) in 1994. He got his first Ph.D. degree (Candidate of Technical Sciences) in thermal and molecular physics from the same university in 1997. From 1998 he worked as a teacher in the department of theoretical fundamentals of thermal and molecular physics in the Kazan State Technical University. After staying for one year, since 2001, as a research engineer at the faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Technion, Haifa, he enrolled at the end of 2002 as a Ph.D. student in the Department of Fluid Mechanics of Tel-Aviv University. In 2007 he got his second Ph.D. degree in experimental and numerical study of unidirectional nonlinear waves group with wide spectrum. From 2007 until 2012 he was algorithm developer in the startup company “DeepBreeze”. Currently he is physicists group technical leader at Medtronic, Jerusalem.


Arkady Rudnitsky, Sergey Agdarov, Konstantin Gulitsky, Zeev Zalevsky. Silicon based mechanic-photonic wavelength converter for infrared photo detection. Optics Communications, volume 392 (2017), page 114–118.

Go To Optics Communications

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