Goddard receives NSF CAREER Award for work on microring resonators

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By Reema Amin, ECE ILLINOIS
March 28, 2011

  • Lynford Goddard recently received an NSF CAREER Award for his work on "Theory and Application of Reflective Microring Resonators."
  • Goddard's project deals with this new kind of photonic device that may help communications systems function better.
  • Using optical solution, the end product could allow the very high data rate of long-distance Internet communication to be available within the chips in your desktop computer.

Lynford L. Goddard
Lynford L. Goddard

ECE Assistant Professor Lynford L. Goddard recently received a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award, one of the most prestigious awards given to young faculty. The title of his project is “Theory and Application of Reflective Microring Resonators.”

Goddard will use the funds that accompany the award to continue his group’s photonics research initiative. He said the project will develop over the next five years, and he hopes the technology will be adopted by businesses within the industry.

The project was conceived in 2008 when Goddard and his graduate students studied ways to create photonic devices with smaller footprints. “Our main motivation was to develop simple closed form solutions to be able to design the functionality of reflective microring-based devices,” he said.

Goddard’s project deals with this new kind of photonic device and may help communications systems—like the Internet—function better. Conventional communications lasers have linear grating mirrors for the light to reflect. But Goddard said the proposed device will be shaped into a ring, allowing the grating to create a better reflection spectrum profile.

“Light enters the ring. It builds up in strength and while circling is reflected bit by bit by the grating. The ring shrinks the [linear] device by a factor of about 100,” Goddard said.

Goddard added that linear grating has a finite length; consequently, the spectrum of the reflected light is not a smooth function and exhibits side lobes, which can cause unwanted noise. The periodic nature of the ring eliminates these side lobe ripples.

Less noise may enable a lower power or a higher data rate system, or both, Goddard said. This optical solution may allow the very high data rate of long-distance Internet communication to be available within the chips in your desktop computer.

“Instead of the chips communicating electronically, they’re doing it optically,” Goddard said.

In the next two years, Goddard and his team will develop and characterize the basic device. During the final three years, the researchers will apply the device to make lasers and on-chip absorption sensors.

While Goddard hopes to collaborate with industry, he said there is still time for the device to mature.

“We want to first demonstrate that the device is feasible and mass manufacturable,” Goddard said.

Goddard has been with ECE since 2007 and is currently teaching ECE 329: Introduction to Electromagnetic Fields. In the fall, he typically teaches ECE 498LG: Principles of Experimental Research. Much of his research interests are in the field of photonics, such as photonics-based sensors and photonic integrated circuits.

Goddard has received numerous honors, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) and, most recently, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science and Technology.

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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