Optofluidic Waveguides for Reconfigurable Photonic Systems

Period of Performance: 09/15/2008 - 05/15/2009


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

2438 Slaterville Road
Slaterville Springs, NY 14881
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Cornell University
426 Phillips Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
Institution POC


Modern microfluidic and nanofluidics has enabled the development of a present day equivalent of such devices centered on the marriage of fluidics and optics which we refer to as Optofluidics. In our device a stream of high refractive index liquid is fluidically focused down to a narrow width between two low refractive index solution streams. These two focusing streams enable us to place the liquid core waveguide directly over a solid core waveguide allowing the light to evanescently couple into it. Once the light is captured the switching streams allow us to switch the liquid waveguide so that it runs over one of the different output waveguides. Analogous to the previous case when the liquid core waveguide flows over the solid core one the liquid evanescently couples out back into the solid structure. One of the limitations of developing such devices in the past has been the need for additional fluidic extra infrastructure (pumps and valves for example). We solve this problem here through the use of an electrohydrodynamic pump which generates pressure driven liquid flow through a low voltage driven electrolytic phase transition. BENEFIT: This research will lead to the development of optical switches in computing applications. These commercial applications include optical signal processing in telecommunications and scientific research.