Lithium niobate is already one of the most widely used optical materials, well-known for its electro-optic properties, meaning it can efficiently convert electronic signals into optical signals. Lithium niobate modulators are the backbone of modern telecommunications, converting electronic data to optical information at the end of fiber optic cables.
Harvard researchers have developed a technique to fabricate high-performance optical microstructures using lithium niobate, opening the door to ultra-efficient integrated photonic circuits, quantum photonics, microwave-to-optical conversion and more.
"This research challenges the status quo," said Marko Loncar, the Tiantsai Lin Professor of Electrical Engineering at SEAS and senior author of the paper. "We demonstrated that you can fabricate high-quality lithium niobate devices — with ultralow loss and high optical confinement — using the conventional microfabrication processes."