BEAMS : Multilayer photonic integration platform for free space optics

ERC Starting Grant (2022-2027)

  The team

Daniele Melati (PI) : Daniele Melati obtained his PhD at Politecnico di Milano (Italy). During my doctoral studies I worked on foundry Process Design Kits for photonics, device modelling, and distributed effects of the waveguide roughness on guided light propagation (radiation losses, back-scattering and radiative cross-talk). After three years at the National Research Council Canada, he joined the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology in 2020. He has been at the forefront of the use of machine learning and optimization techniques for the development of complex photonic devices. His research activities includes optical metamaterials and metasurfaces, photonic antennas, and optical phased arrays.




The project explores a new class of silicon photonic devices and circuits in a three-dimensional integration technology for the generation, control, and reception of free-space laser beams. This research is motivated by the surging importance of communication, sensing, and imaging applications exploiting optical beams propagating in the free space and their urgent need for compact and flexible devices. Currently available integrated solutions based on planar integration technologies are fundamentally limited by either narrow operational bandwidth and reduced shaping capabilities or small apertures and limited steering ranges. The original idea of the BEAMS project is to overcome these limitations by developing multi-layer antenna arrays, metasurfaces, and photonic control circuits exploiting an approach based on three-dimensional integration. This multi-pronged concept will enable unmatched performance in aperture size, efficiency, bandwidth, control flexibility, and power which cannot be achieved by currently available scientific and technological solutions, enabling the development of integrated photonic devices for long-range and broadband free-space applications. Exploiting these new capabilities, the project will demonstrate in particular innovative photonic devices for optical communications, targeting a kilometer-long communication link in free space with multiple wavelength channels. Through its research program, the BEAMS project will combine the fields of integrated and free-space photonics, opening a plethora of new possibilities with a large impact on science and society.