Building Blocks for Wavelength Converters: A Study of Monolithic Devices in Piezoelectric Materials

M. Forsch

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

57 Downloads (Pure)


In cavity optomechanics, optical fields are coupled to the displacement of mechanical resonators. While it is interesting to study fundamental aspects of this interaction, it is the ability to link this mechanical displacement to various other degrees of freedom that inspires many applications in the field. In these applications, the mechanical resonator can be used as a handle to an external influence for the purpose of sensing, but also as a transducer between two otherwise detached degrees of freedom. The latter approach is the focus of this work. A particularly interesting regime for such a transduction process is between a few-gigahertz microwave tone and optical photons at telecom wavelengths around 1550 nm, connecting the operating regimes of long-range telecommunication with that of superconducting quantum nodes. Bridging the gap between these domains is an essential step towards any size of quantum network based on superconducting nodes, as the losses encountered in microwave transmission lines prohibits the connection of such nodes over length scales extending beyond a few meters. As such, a transducer between the few-gigahertz and optical telecom domains would enable the use of low-loss optical channels to connect remote superconducting nodes, given that the quantum information is preserved throughout the conversion process. One approach of realizing such a converter makes use of a gigahertz-frequency mechanical mode as the transducing element, which is coupled to the optical telecom domain using the optomechanical interaction and to the microwave domain using the electromechanical interaction. In this work, we aim to unify both of these interactions in a single device by designing and fabricating optomechanical devices from the III/V semiconductors, which, alongside their good optical properties, are also piezoelectric. In Chapter 2, we motivate our material choice and introduce the relevant properties of the materials, as well as their impact on the fabrication process. Following the material discussion, we then set out in Chapter 3 to realize a microwave-to-optics converter made of an optomechanical crystal in gallium arsenide, which we resonantly couple to a interdigital transducer using surface-acoustic-waves. With this device, we demonstrate the first microwave-to-optics conversion using a mechanical mode with an average number of thermal excitations below one. As well as verifying the coherence of the conversion process, our experiments also highlight the limitations arising from the material choice due to absorption-induced incoherent heating of the mechanical mode. The material choice itself then becomes the central topic of Chapter 4, where we opt for a gallium phosphide, a relative of gallium arsenide, which prominently features a larger bandgap. With this material we show non-classical correlations between photons an phonons. We enter a a regime that was previously inaccessible to devices made from piezoelectric materials, a promising step towards realizing the noise-requirements for microwave-to-optics converters. In Chapter 5, we use the insights from the two previous chapters to design a new type of electro-opto-mechanical resonator, specifically aimed at microwave-to-optics conversion. We miniaturize the electromechanical interface and use strongly coupled mechanical resonators for the transfer of excitations between the microwave and mechanical mode. We fabricate and characterise initial devices as well as demonstrate the validity of the functioning principle. Finally in Chapter 6, we reflect on the results of the previous chapters and highlight some potential advantages of other approaches.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Groeblacher, S., Supervisor
  • Kuipers, L., Supervisor
Award date17 Dec 2020
Place of PublicationDelft
Print ISBNs978-90-8593-453-0
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Optomechanics
  • Piezoelectrics
  • Semiconductors
  • Wavelength Conversion
  • Nanofabrication


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