Graphenics : a FET 'Young Explorers' project on mid-infrared-pumped optical nonlinearities in graphene
The development of multi-color or broadband light sources has revolutionized the world of optics, photonics, and of science and technology in general. Especially broadband sources with mid-infrared emission could have a tremendous impact on various aspects of people’s daily lives. Despite their great application potential in, amongst others, biomedicine, sensing, and broadband device testing, mid-infrared broadband light sources are not yet being widely used. Such widespread deployment is mainly being hindered by compactness and portability issues.
To overcome this bottleneck, a team of 'Young Explorer' researchers from 4 international research partners, namely Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), the Institute of Electronic Materials Technology (Poland), Vienna University of Technology (Austria) and University of Toronto (Canada) started the GRAPHENICS project funded by the European Commission. The project aims included mid-infrared broadband light generation on a photonic chip where both the chip and the pump laser exciting the chip are made extremely compact. The GRAPHENICS researchers developed a novel small-sized pulsed fiber laser optimized for mid-infrared operation without the need for a bulky cooling system. They also fabricated graphene-covered chips to enable nonlinear-optical light generation within an ultra-small foot print. Using these chips they investigated graphene's nonlinear-optical physics and observed an extra-ordinary spectral broadening behavior induced by the 2D layer. By finally bringing the pump laser and chips together in a portable setup, the GRAPHENICS partners demonstrated the potential of mid-infrared-pumped light generation in graphene-enhanced photonic chips.