Materials Processing Center/Microphotonics Center

This report discusses the FY2002 accomplishments of the Materials Processing Center (MPC) and the Microphotonics Center. The MIT Microphotonics Center was created within the MPC and is currently administered by MPC staff; it will be treated as a separate entity within the context of this report.

The Materials Processing Center is an interdisciplinary center within MIT's School of Engineering. Currently directed by Professor Lionel C. Kimerling (Department of Materials Science and Engineering), the MPC was established in 1980 in response to a recognized national need to improve the materials processing knowledge base and streamline the process of technology transfer within the materials science and engineering field. The MPC provides the MIT materials community with leadership in research program development and administrative support.

The mission of the MPC is to provide an environment where students and professionals from industry, government, and academia collaborate on pivotal multidisciplinary issues in materials science in a way that creates new knowledge, produces knowledgeable and capable employees, and promotes the exchange of information in the service of our country and in the context of a global community. In accomplishing its mission, the MPC reaches out to students, faculty, and industry.

The mission of the MIT Microphotonics Center is to build interdisciplinary, intramural research teams focused on advancing basic science and emerging technology in areas relevant to the creation of new materials, structures, and architectures to enable the evolution of photonics from single discrete devices to strongly interacting, integrated photonic systems. The research of the center is organized as a highly coupled set of activities that allow for individually driven discovery within a context of goal-oriented research. The basic programmatic units are theory and design, materials and processing, and characterization and performance. Students are expected to master a vertically integrated set of skills that extends to the fabrication of functional prototypes.

Materials Processing Center

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the field of materials processing, faculty and research staff affiliated with the MPC come from a wide range of fields. Affiliated faculty and research staff number over 200 and hail from the Departments of Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, Biology, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, Ocean Engineering, and Physics. Faculty and researchers from the Francis Bitter Magnet Lab and Lincoln Lab also participate in MPC programs. For affiliates, the MPC serves as a bridge, via its industry collegium, to bring research results to industry's attention.

The MPC industry collegium is made up of over 40 domestic and international companies in a range of industries, from traditional commodity materials to biomaterials. For member companies, the collegium serves as a window on cutting-edge materials research and development at MIT. Researchers at MIT have the common agenda of leading-edge research and goal of maximum technological impact. The MPC collegium, in collaboration with MIT's Industrial Liaison Program, facilitates the transition of groundbreaking science into market-changing products by providing a pathway for technology transfer between the university and industry. This effort includes leveraging core federal research funding into expanded industrial-academic collaborations.

During much of FY2002, the MPC continued to focus on the development and expansion of the Microphotonics Center. Total research volume expanded by 50 percent to reach a total of $11.9 million. The combined MPC/Microphotonics Center staff grew to eight during FY2002. The two centers share staff, office space, and resources with the Microphotonics Center operating as an administrative sub-center of the MPC. Later in this report is a description of the activities of the Microphotonics Center during FY2002.


Affiliated faculty and research staff have over FY2002 been recognized with awards too many to be listed here. Please see the FY2002 issues of our newsletter, the Industry Collegium Report, for details. The report is available on the web at

Education Activities

One pillar of the MPC is the education of the next generation of materials processing research scientists, engineers, and leaders. To this end, the MPC initiates programs to enhance the intellectual vitality of the materials processing community at MIT. We measure the value of these programs by the breadth of the materials science they address, by the new and creative collaborations among researchers they catalyze, and by the degree of attention to the multidisciplinary—but at the same time fundamental—nature of materials processing they generate.

Materials Unlimited Seminar Series

Now in its fourth year, the Materials Unlimited seminar series highlights the research of senior graduate students identified by their peers and faculty members as being among the best in MIT materials-related research. Seminars include a half-hour talk by the featured graduate student, followed by a half-hour panel discussion. Panelists are drawn from MIT, other university faculty and companies appropriate to the topic. Seminars are well attended by a diverse audience of faculty, postdocs, and students, as well as industrial guests.

FY2002 featured three talks. "Patterning and Controlled Microstructures of Ultrathin Layer-by-Layer Thin Films: From Polymers to Mesoscale Colloidal Assembly" was the title of Xueping Jiang's (Chemical Engineering) talk. Professors Paula Hammond, Michael Rubner, and Joseph Jacobson, as well as Dr. Carmichael Roberts (president, Surface Logix, Inc.) served as panelists for her talk. Michael Groenert (DMSE) spoke about his work with "GaAs/AlGaAs Quantum Well Lasers on Si," with Professors Rajeev Ram (EECS), Eugene Fitzgerald (DMSE), and Lionel Kimerling, and Dr. John Carlin (AmberWave Systems Co.) as panelists. Finally, Krystyn van Vliet (DMSE) described to the audience her research in "Nanoindentation: Experiment and Simulation of Surface Contact at the Atomic Scale," with panelists Professors Subra Suresh (DMSE), Franz Spaepen (Harvard University), and Dr. Ju Li (Nuclear Engineering) as panelists.

Materials Day

The sixth annual Materials Day celebration was held in October 2001 under the title and theme "Nanostructured Materials: Foundation for the Next Generation of Optical and Electronic Devices." Talks included:

The late afternoon program featured a poster session open to graduate, undergraduate, and postdoctoral researchers in materials science. One hundred seven presenters defended 82 posters, a record high for the six years of Materials Day poster sessions. Three posters were awarded a $500 prize for best poster as judged by a panel of faculty and industry judges. The winners were Dr. Heidi Burch (DMSE), Vikram Sundar (Chemistry), and Augustine Urbas (DMSE). The keynote speaker for the evening program was Professor Mark Thompson of the University of Southern California Chemistry Department, who addressed the audience about "Strategies for Achieving a Bright Future."

For the first time, the MPC provided a live webcast of the Materials Day morning program talks. Over one hundred hits to the webcast access page were logged.

Summer Research Internship Program

The MPC and Center for Materials Science and Engineering (CMSE) co-sponsor the MPC-CMSE summer research internship program. This ten-week program brings outstanding juniors and seniors in science or engineering majors from academic institutions around the United States to MIT to work in the laboratories of participating faculty and hear weekly talks on subjects of relevance to budding materials researchers. Summer 2001 saw a doubling of our outreach effort in this program, with seventeen students attending from a wide range of schools, including the University of Iowa, Colorado State, the University of Southern Mississippi, Columbia University, and the University of Rochester. These students worked with faculty from Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, DMSE, the Active Materials and Structures Lab, and the Magnet Lab on a wide variety of projects.

During FY2001 the decision was made to expand the summer research internship program, and the summer 2001 session, just begun at the time of this report, has brought twenty-one students to MIT.


The MPC supports the MIT Solar Car and Formula SAE teams with a $5K grant each. See for information about this student organization.


The second pillar of the Materials Processing Center is its outreach to new faculty and researchers across MIT's materials community, as well as to the global materials industry. The center is proactive in inviting faculty to participate in center activities, whether through our publications, educational programs, ongoing research programs or the development and marketing of new initiatives. Seed funding for young faculty is also available.

Industry Collegium

The MPC industry collegium continues to provide two-way access and exchange between our materials community faculty and the international industrial community.


The Microphotonics Center produces two main publications in pursuit of its outreach goals. Materials Research at MIT, is a digest of materials research performed at MIT by MPC-affiliated faculty and others during the previous calendar year. It provides a short summary of each project being researched by faculty members, along with a list of their personnel and publications. Materials Research at MIT 2000 provided the reports of 77 faculty members. The 2001 research digest was issued in both print and electronic (web, and new this year, a searchable CD-ROM) formats. We continue to increase our use of the web for dissemination of information, during 2001 providing website construction, web hosting, and web-based file exchange services for the nascent Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology.

The MPC's other major publication is the Industry Collegium Report, a thrice-yearly newsletter on the activities of the MPC. Distribution for both of the main publications includes MPC-affiliated MIT faculty and staff (>200) and members of the MPC Collegium mailing list (>400).

Faculty Outreach

The MPC has added several new faculty members to its affiliated faculty pool—Darrell Irvine (DMSE) and Eric Hudson (Physics).


Research volume statistics have been given above. Details on the CY2001 research by MPC-affiliated faculty can be found in our 2001 annual report, Materials Research at MIT 2002, available online via a link from our home page.

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Microphotonics Center

The MIT Microphotonics Center was announced in the fall of 1998 by the Materials Processing Center and commenced activity by the pooling of intellect and ongoing research funds (~$18 million for 2000) of a group of faculty. The participating faculty had been working in loose collaboration across a variety of subjects ranging from components for telecommunications and computing to optical coatings. The driving forces for the organization were the amplification of the synergy that had been realized through the multidisciplinary collaborations, and attraction of industrial support to MIT research. The center is currently administered by the staff of the MPC. Center activities are highly interdisciplinary. Microphotonics Center-affiliated faculty currently number 30 and represent seven departments across three Schools: Mechanical Engineering, EECS, Chemical Engineering, DMSE, Chemistry, Physics, and the Sloan School. During FY2002, we have added Karen Gleason (Chemical Engineering), Franz Kaertner and Munther Dahleh (both of EECS), Adam Powell (DMSE), and Martin Culpepper and Alexander Slocum (both of Mechincal Engineering) to the pool of faculty affiliated under the Microphotonics Center umbrella.

One of the major Microphotonics Center activities has been and continues to be a diligent effort creating the world's best processing facility for photonic components. The research areas have been designed and programmed for theory and design work; layered growth of III-V, Si-based dielectric, and organic components; fabrication of prototype passive dielectric-based components (e.g. waveguides) and active compound semiconductor-based components (e.g. lasers, detectors); an area for research on and prototype construction of displays based on novel organic materials; a photonic component packaging facility; and full characterization facilities. Industry partners are supporting the equipment infrastructure with $5.5 million in equipment donations (all currently in storage awaiting facility availability), and we are actively supporting the capital campaign in a major effort to secure support for the dedicated space. In the near term, we are partnering with MTL, RLE, and CMSE to renovate temporary space in distributed "migration" facilities, so that we can maintain research leadership even as we continue to look forward to a consolidated facility and the synergies that it will bring to Microphotonics Center research.


The Microphotonics Center is dedicated to providing a community of researchers and engineers educated in technical and business-strategy issues of this emerging field. The center sponsors a weekly seminar series, which is attended on average by over 50 faculty, postdocs, students of all levels, and visitors. Speakers have included MIT and other university faculty, postdocs and senior graduate students, and industrial visitors. For a list of past and future seminar topics and speakers, see our home page at


One particular focal area for Microphotonics Center research is in new materials, structures, and architectures for planar lightwave circuits. The goal is fully integrated photonic functionality for these tiny, low-cost units, thereby enabling their deployment in metropolitan area network and fiber-to-the-home applications. Our areas of emphasis include dense wavelength-division multiplexing (a way of increasing signal-capacity), optical signal conditioning, on-chip optical clock distribution and I/O for microprocessors. Our research has set world records for performance at 1.3- to 1.55-micron wavelengths (the standard for optical communications). We have achieved the smallest waveguide bends (1 micron bend radius); the smallest ring resonators (1 micron radius); the first coupled quadruple micro-ring resonator structures for high-definition channels; the smallest multimode interferometer beam splitters (1-by-8 in 7.5-by-15 microns); the smallest in-line add/drop filter (0.055 cubic micron volume); the smallest multichannel add/drop and multiplex/de-multiplex circuits; the worldwide best performing waveguide-integrated Ge photodetectors for the 1.3- to 1.55 micron wavelengths; the first erbium-doped silicon light-emitting diode; and the first terahertz oscillator based on an erbium-doped microcavity. Beyond these, we have engineered a range of components based on photonic crystal concepts to enhance the extraction efficiency of light sources and route signals in high-level cross-connect circuits.

See the 2001 research digest, Bringing New Technology to Light, for information on research projects and for details on the progress of the groundbreaking research cited above. This book is available online via a link from the Microphotonics Center home page. Microphotonics Center research sponsored by our research alliance partners and others has generated approximately 150 new invention disclosures over the past five years and 11 new start-ups have been launched by our materials community over the same period. In FY2002 Microphotonics Center research volume was $2.7 million for over 20 faculty members, and these faculty members published some 245 papers in the microphotonics area.

The Microphotonics Center industry consortium began its key initiative, the Communications Technology Roadmap Project (CTR) in the fall of 2000. This ongoing study will give a 10-year view down the rapidly changing microphotonics technology highway by interviewing industry workers at all levels of management and developing a picture of areas of consensus and conflicting opinion on how technology and business issues will play out. Consortium members will use the study findings in optical network architecture, component design and manufacturing, market analysis, technical supply chain analysis, and geographic analysis to focus their R&D and business strategies. The CTR project is chaired by Professors Charles Fine (Sloan) and Rajeev Ram (EECS), and has Elizabeth Bruce as a dedicated (part-time) research staff member. The CTR working group presented interim reports to consortium members at the January and April 2002 meetings; the first formal report of the roadmap study committee will be distributed to industry consortium member companies in November 2002. For more information about CTR, see the web site at


As with the MPC, outreach, both to researchers within MIT and to industry, is the sine qua non of the Microphotonics Center.

Industry Consortium

The Microphotonics Center has established an industry consortium to create a proactive forum where researchers from MIT and from industry can work as partners in defining and pursuing critical microphotonics R&D. Like the MPC's industry collegium, the microphotonics industry consortium provides a bridge between MIT technology and potential commercialization. The Microphotonics Center consortium founding member companies share royalty-free licensing to all research funded by the consortium and participate in the information technology research project. This consortium has twelve founding member companies and has ongoing talks with others, whose businesses represent the entire industry supply chain from service providers to basic materials suppliers. The consortium held a kickoff meeting in January 2002 and a follow-up meeting in April 2002.

Coupling and Packaging Consortium

The Microphotonics Center is in the process of establishing a Coupling and Packaging Consortium (CPC), with Professor George Barbastathis (Mechanical Engineering) as its director, to address issues of microphotonic component coupling and circuit packaging. The consortium will serve as a rubric for research funded and shared by the member companies, and was introduced at the January 2002 microphotonics industry consortium meeting. Proposals will be solicited from faculty during the summer of 2002. As of the end of FY2002, the CPC had membership commitments from three companies and has active discussions and negotiations ongoing with a number of other prospective members.

Major Agreements for Fiscal Year 2002

In April 2001, MIT and Walsin Lihwa Corporation, the leading Taiwanese DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) manufacturer and cable/wire supplier, signed a major agreement to collaborate on research via the Microphotonics Center. The five-year master sponsored research agreement provided $3M in the first year to research designs and processes for laser diodes and lightwave components for compact and low-cost dense wavelength-division multiplexing systems. The research alliance with Walsin Lihwa was renewed in April for a second year at $5 million.

In November 2001, MIT and Pirelli Labs, the optical communications research arm of the Italian Pirelli group, signed a five-year Master Sponsored Research Agreement for advanced basic research in the field of photonics via the Microphotonics Center. In the first year Pirelli Labs has sponsored $2 million in research that supports six coordinated faculty research teams.

Program Expansion

During the past year the Microphotonics Center held a number of major research briefings for individual domestic and international corporations. New industry partnerships have resulted in the launch of a five-year master sponsored research initiative with Analog Devices as well as major equipment donation from Veeco and Unaxis.


The Microphotonics Center continued to print Bringing New Technology to Light, a digest of relevant research by Microphotonics Center-affiliated faculty. This volume is similar to the Materials Processing Center's annual research digest, described above, and was issued in print and electronic (web and searchable CD-ROM) formats. In the coming year we will eliminate the print version of this research report entirely, providing it only on CD-ROM and via the web. We continue to increase our use of the web for dissemination of information, particularly to our collegium member companies.


The Materials Processing Center and the Microphotonics Center continue to serve as a valuable bridge between MIT materials and microphotonics research, respectively, and industry. Our goals for the future include the expansion of this role as well as a reaffirmation of our role in educating the local community in materials and microphotonics through our seminar series and through the MPC-CMSE summer research internship program. We expect to expand and develop our web presence in the coming year to provide more educational content for the general public on the relevance of the research conducted within our areas.

For both organizations, our outreach efforts both within MIT (to involve more faculty, and particularly young faculty) and outside MIT (to develop company ties to the MPC industry collegium and the Microphotonics Center industry consortium, as well as through one-on-one research sponsorship or alliance programs) will continue apace. Additional goals for the Microphotonics Center will be the establishment of our Coupling and Packaging Consortium, ongoing work on of our Communications Technology Roadmap Project, and development of our infrastracture resources. Our publications, including our web site, remain a key part of that effort. We hope to launch, during 2002, a Microphotonics Center newsletter similar in format to the MPC newsletter.

Lionel C. Kimerling
Thomas Lord Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

More information about the Materials Processing Center can be found on the web at

More information about the Microphotonics Center can be found on the web at


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