Photonic MEMS: Coupling Mechanics & Photonics at the Micro- and Nanoscale

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Photonic MEMS: Coupling Mechanics & Photonics at the Micro- and Nanoscale
Thursday, January 31, 2019 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Bldg. 380 Rm. 380X
Prof. Niels Quack - EPFL
Abstract / Description: 

Photonic integrated circuits have seen a dramatic increase in complexity over the past decades, driven by recent applications in datacenter communications and enabled by the availability of standardized mature technology offerings. Among several directions that are currently pursued to enhance functionality and to reduce power consumption in photonic integrated circuits, we exploit in our research mechanical movement of wave-guiding structures at the micro- and nanoscale, motivated by the unique opportunities of access to a strong modulation of the effective index and the possibility to include mechanical latching and thus non-volatile states. In this talk, we will show how we can exploit nano-mechanics in photonic integrated circuits to perform basic operations on-chip, such as phase shifting, attenuation or photonic switching. Due to their small footprint and low insertion loss, such components can be integrated to form large arrays of several thousands of unit cells with outstanding system performance. We will discuss how movable waveguides can be fabricated in dedicated surface micromachining technology or by selective post-processing in a standard silicon photonics platform. We will discuss an experimental demonstrator of a mechanical waveguide latching mechanism, and provide an outlook on the implementation of the concept of large-scale reconfigurable photonic integrated circuits using Silicon Photonic MEMS. 


Niels Quack received the M. Sc. degree from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, in 2005, and the Dr. Sc. degree from Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH), Switzerland, in 2010.  From 2011 to 2015 he was Postdoctoral Researcher and Visiting Scholar at University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA, within the Integrated Photonics Laboratory at the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center. From 2014 to 2015 he was Senior MEMS Engineer with sercalo Microtechnology, Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He is currently Swiss National Science Foundation Funded Professor at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland. Research interests include Photonic Micro- and Nanoystems, with an emphasis on Diamond Photonics and Silicon Photonic MEMS. He is Senior Member of IEEE, Member of OSA and SPIE, and has been serving in several scientific and technical committees, including the Steering Committee of the IEEE International Conference on Optical MEMS and Nanophotonics (OMN), the Technical Program Committee of ECOC, and as General Chair for the IEEE OMN 2018 and for the Latsis Symposium 2019 on Diamond Photonics. He has authored and co-authored more than 50 papers in leading technical journals and conferences. Further information is available on the google scholar profile ( or the research group web site (