Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"DURI: Plasmonic Interconnects with Alternative Materials"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Fall 2017 - DURI
Research area(s):
Project Description:
Plasmonics is the study of the interaction between free electrons in a metal and electromagnetic fields. When light strikes the surface of a metal, it may generate oscillations in the free electrons that can propagate along the metal surface (surface plasmon polaritons), or undergo localized vibrations (localized surface plasmons). The electronic waves have very high wave-vectors and can be confined into spaces much smaller than the diffraction limit of light. These properties have an enormous potential for solving fundamental limitations in electronics, information sciences, sensing, nonlinear optics, and optofluidics. However, the lack of a suitable material platform largely limits the incorporation of plasmonics into conventional and practical technologies. Our group's aim is to overcome these hurdles through the discovery, exploration, and demonstration of alternative materials for plasmonic devices and applications. Transition metal nitrides, particular Titanium Nitride (TiN) and Zirconium Nitride (ZrN), exhibit optical and plasmonic properties similar to noble metals with the additional benefits of being temperature tolerant and CMOS compatible. Doped metal oxides are another group of materials that are CMOS compatible, optically tunable, and exhibit low losses in the telecommunication range. Recently, we demonstrated TiN plasmonic waveguides with propagation lengths exceeding 5 mm and a figure of merit outperforming similar waveguides made from gold. In addition to waveguide devices, we are actively pursuing plasmonic modulator designs using a class of alternative materials called transparent conducting oxides (TCOs). Ultimately, we envision bringing both transition metal nitride waveguides and TCO modulators onto a single platform in order to realize a plasmonic system capable of pushing past the limitations of conventional electronics. The goal of this project is to fabricate low-loss, long range plasmonic interconnects that can readily integrate with silicon photonic waveguides, making them suitable for inter-chip data transfer for networks in data centers that require the transfer of information at ultra-high speeds, which is not attainable by conventional copper interconnects. This could potentially reduce the amount of energy used by data centers significantly.
Expected Student Contributions:
The purpose of this project is to design ultra-compact, low loss waveguides with transition metal nitrides. This project wll contribute to ongoing work on plasmonic modulators using CMOS-compatible materials.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
All skills will be acquired during the course of the internship.
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?
Yes, 3 credit hours

Professor in Charge

Boltasseva, Alexandra
electrical and computer eng

Student Supervisor


Cooperating Faculty

Ernesto Marinero