Research Overview

By enabling the integration of millions of micro-scale optical components on compact millimeter-scale computer chips, the field of silicon photonics is positioned to enable next-generation optical technologies that facilitate revolutionary advances for numerous fields spanning science and engineering. In the MIT Photonics and Electronics Research Group (PERG), we are developing novel silicon-photonics-based platforms, devices, and systems that enable innovative solutions to high-impact problems in areas including augmented-reality displays, LiDAR sensing for autonomous vehicles, free-space optical communications, quantum engineering, and biophotonics. See below for descriptions of several recent projects.

Integrated-Photonics-Based Displays for Augmented Reality

Augmented-reality head-mounted displays that display information directly in the user’s field of view have many wide-reaching applications in defense, medicine, engineering, gaming, etc. However, current commercial head-mounted displays are bulky, heavy, and very indiscreet. Moreover, these current displays are not capable of producing holographic images with full depth cues; this lack of depth information results in users experiencing eyestrain and headaches that limit long-term and wide-spread use of these displays (an effect known as the vergence-accommodation conflict). To address these limitations, we are developing a novel integrated-photonics-based augmented-reality display that consists of a single discreet transparent chip that sits directly in front of the user's eye and projects visible-light 3D holograms that only the user can see.

Beam-Steering Optical Phased Arrays for LiDAR and FSO

Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) has emerged as a vital and widely-used sensing technology for autonomous systems, such as autonomous vehicles, since it enables 3D mapping with higher resolution than traditional RADAR. However, current commercial LiDAR systems utilize mechanical beam-steering mechanisms that decrease reliability and increase production cost. To address these limitations, integrated optical phased arrays (OPAs), which enable low-cost, high-speed, and compact non-mechanical beam steering, have emerged as a promising solution for next-generation LiDAR sensors. In our group, we are developing novel beam-steering OPA-based systems and applying these systems to enable innovative solutions for emerging LiDAR applications, in addition to transceivers for free-space-optical communications (FSO).

Integrated Photonics for Quantum Comm and Computation

Quantum information science has emerged as a promising and important tool for future advanced communication and computation systems. Within this area, there are many physical implementations of qubits and corresponding technologies, such as trapped ions, diamond defects, and superconductors. Integrated photonics is uniquely positioned to facilitate significant and vital advancements for the majority of these platforms to enable scalable, practical, and efficient quantum systems. In our group, we are developing novel integrated-photonics-based devices and systems that enable significant advancements for a number of these quantum technologies.

MIT Photonics and Electronics Research Group - Professor Jelena Notaros - Accessibility