Murphy Receives NSF CAREER AwardECE Assistant Professor Thomas E. Murphy has been awarded a Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct research on nonlinear optical devices. The prestigious and competitive NSF CAREER Program supports talented faculty at early stages in their careers. The $400,000 award over five years will support Prof. Murphy's ongoing research and education program.
Professor Murphy's research aims to overcome some of the speed limitations in current communication systems by replacing electronic processes with much faster optical processes. Optical communication systems today are constrained to operate at speeds below 40 Gb/s per channel, because the electronic components used to detect and process the incoming data are not fast enough to support higher rates. Nonlinear optical effects offer a way to directly control one optical signal with another, at a speed that is longer constrained by electronics. This type of optical signal processing could lead to novel solutions for optical logic, optical pattern recognition, wavelength conversion or even optical computing.
One of the challenges to optical signal processing is that the fastest optical nonlinearities are usually weak effects. Because of this, most present-day nonlinear devices require either long propagation lengths or high-power optical signals to achieve a sufficient nonlinear interaction. With the recent NSF CAREER award, Murphy's group is seeking to develop a new type of nonlinear optical detector that uses low-loss integrated waveguides and resonant cavities to concentrate the optical signal to a small volume, which could dramatically reduce the required power. This research could lead to a new generation of ultrafast nonlinear components that operate at hundreds of gigabits per second, yet occupy very little space on a chip, and require less than 100 microWatts of optical input power to function.
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Published January 20, 2006