Skip to main content

Fast-tunable and Low-loss Stress-optical Microsystems

ECE Colloquia Virtual Seminar

Location: Current students will receive access details via Canvas
Sunil Bhave
Purdue University

Silicon Nitride (SiN) is an outstanding material for on-chip photonic systems because of its extremely low optical loss, outstanding optical power handling and controllable non-linearity. SiN photonic integrated circuits (PICs) are becoming more commonplace in high performance systems including LIDAR, Optical Frequency Combs, Spatial Light Modulators and Photonic Quantum Processors. In such microsystems, low-loss photonics enhances lidar resolution and range, octave-spanning combs for optical clocks, longer-distance free-space communication and higher intensity light incident on detectors in photonics quantum processors.

However, modulation and tuning of SiN has been limited to thermal heaters because it’s a dielectric amorphous material with no electro-optic coefficients. In this presentation I will present architectures based on piezoMEMS technology to demonstrate stress-optical modulation and tuning of silicon nitride optical ring resonators [1]. Specifically, I will demonstrate high speed tuning of self-injection locked lasers for LIDAR and frequency combs [2] and GHz frequency mechanical resonant actuators for implementing magnetic-free optical isolators [3,4]. If time permits, I will discuss optomechanical inertial sensors and microwave-to-optical quantum converters [5] in our Piezo-on-Nitride technology platform.

This research is in close collaboration with Professor Tobias Kippenberg’s group at EPFL.


Sunil Bhave received the B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Berkeley in EECS in 1998 and 2004 respectively. In April 2015, he joined the Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University where he is currently the Faculty Director of the Scifres Nanofabrication Laboratory. Sunil received the NSF CAREER Award in 2007, the DARPA Young Faculty Award in 2008, the IEEE Ultrasonics Society’s Young Investigator Award in 2014 and the Google Faculty Research Award in 2020.

His students have received Best Paper Awards at MEMS 2021, IFCS 2021, IFCS 2020, IEEE Photonics 2012, Ultrasonics 2009 and IEDM 2007. Before joining Purdue, Sunil was an associate professor at Cornell and sensor architect at Analog Devices.


  1. Hao Tian, Junqiu Liu, Bin Dong, J Connor Skehan, Michael Zervas, Tobias J. Kippenberg and Sunil A. Bhave, "Hybrid Integrated Photonics Using Bulk Acoustic Resonators," Nature Communications (2020).
  2. Junqiu Liu, Hao Tian, Erwan Lucas, Arslan S. Raja, Grigory Lihachev, Rui Ning Wang, Jijun He, T. Liu, M. H. Anderson, Wenle Weng, Sunil A. Bhave and Tobias J. Kippenberg, "Monolithic piezoelectric control of soliton microcombs," Nature (2020).
  3. Hao Tian, Junqiu Liu, Anat Siddharth, Terence Blésin, Tobias J. Kippenberg and Sunil A. Bhave, "X-Band AOM on Chip," 34th IEEE International Conference on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS 2021) Jan 25-29, 2021, pp. 210-213 [Winner of Best Paper Award].
  4. Hao Tian, Junqiu Liu, Anat Siddharth, Rui Ning Wang, Terence Blésin, Jijun He, Tobias J. Kippenberg and Sunil A. Bhave, "Magnetic-free silicon nitride integrated optical isolator," Nature Photonics (2021) [Video Demonstration].
  5. Terrence Blésin, Hao Tian, Sunil A. Bhave and Tobias J. Kippenberg, "Quantum coherent microwave-optical transduction using high overtone bulk acoustic resonances," Physical Review A (2021).


Seminar Series