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PhD Thesis Defense

Thursday, September 23, 2021
9:00am to 10:00am
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High Sensitivity Time-Varying Systems In Photonics and Electronics
Parham Porsandeh Khial, Graduate Student, Electrial Engineering, California Institute of Technology,

Integrated electronics and photonics have been revolutionizing our daily lives for decades. However, the demand for high-speed communications, low-latency networks, and high-performance optical and electrical sensors continues to grow. In order to keep up with this demand as well as be able to address upcoming and unknown challenges, we need to explore unconventional solutions. Moving away from existing systems and traditional architectures allows us to take a deeper look at these challenges and potentially come up with nontrivial answers. In this thesis, unconventional approaches to implementing high-performance optical and electrical sensors and systems are investigated. Among these unorthodox solutions are time-varying architectures which led to completely new devices, sensors with dramatically improved sensitivity, and the breaking of known trade-offs.

By developing a time-varying method that we call reciprocal sensitivity enhancement, we demonstrated a nanophotonic optical gyroscope (NOG) for the first time. The efficacy of this method is borne out by its ability to improve the performance of optical gyroscopes by two orders of magnitude. This sensitivity-enhancement method filters out reciprocal imperfections and noise, thereby increasing the overall signal-to-noise ratio. Next, the same approach is used to boost the performance of resonance-based magnetic biosensors. By merging two biosensors and taking advantage of the frequency response of magnetic beads, time-division switching cancels out most of the correlated noise. This solution pushes the sensitivity of this sensor below parts-per-million (PPM) levels for long periods of time—a property which is desirable in many biosensing applications.

Additionally, an electrical scalable router that mitigates line-of-sight issues in next-generation wireless systems is introduced. This novel design does not require any shared timing reference to form a coherent array and uses a time-varying baseband to create a proper true-time delay. Next, we discuss how radiating elements in silicon-photonics platforms can be engineered to create a passive lensless camera. By applying a robust reconstruction algorithm, the captured image can be faithfully recovered. The same concept can be used in multi-mode nanophotonic antennas to alleviate the field-of-view (FOV)-aperture trade-off.

Finally, a hybrid photonic transmitter/receiver architecture, an electrical full-duplex transceiver with one nonreciprocal element, and a nested-ring optical modulator are presented.

For more information, please contact Tanya Owen by phone at ext. 8817 or by email at