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Sound may boost photonics' potential ERC-Grant for David Marpaung

When light and sound strongly interact, via the so-called stimulated Brillouin scattering, a new range of applications opens up, like lasers with a very narrow linewidth and ultra-high resolution signal processing. The problem is that materials that do a great job in transport and processing of light, aren’t automatically suitable for the combination of light and sound. Professor David Marpaung of the University of Twente is convinced of the potential of the combination, and will develop a 3D integration technology to harness the potential of light and sound interactions. For this, he receives a highly prestigious Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council.

Silicon nitride photonics, a technology developed at the University of Twente for guiding light with extremely low losses, is already used in sensors, lasers, and even photonic quantum processors. Introducing sound waves into silicon nitride, however, is not possible until now: the optical forces are too weak and the standard optics in silicon nitride is not capable of carrying sound waves. Marpaung is one of the pioneers of research on Brillouin scattering in silicon nitride, and he is convinced that they will make a powerful combination.

David will receive 2,55 million euros for his project, the largest Consolidator Grant so far in Twente, and third-largest ever in The Netherlands. Earlier on, he received a VIDI grant (2017) and a START-UP grant (2019), both from Dutch Research Council NWO. He was also recently elected as Fellow of the Optica (formerly OSA). 

His ERC Consolidator project TRIFFIC will develop a new class of acoustic sources that is much more powerful than the optical forces in silicon nitride. He will then build an advanced 3D integrated circuit that brings together the light and sound waves. With this entirely new circuit, he will show for the first time that interactions between light and sound can also be “programmed”, just like for electronic circuits.  

Prof. David Marpaung leads the Nonlinear Nanophotonics group, part of UT’s MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology. The new Consolidator Grant will enable him to expand his group, with six new group members in the coming five years: four PhD students and two post-doctoral researchers.

ir. W.R. van der Veen (Wiebe)
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