Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical, Computer & Energy Engineering

First Advisor

Wounjhang Park

Second Advisor

Alan Mickelson

Third Advisor

Dejan Filipovic

Fourth Advisor

Milos Popovic

Fifth Advisor

Thomas Schibli


As our demand for information grows, so too does the demand for networks capable of handling this flood of data. Conventional on-chip electrical networks are approaching their limits in terms of latency, power consumption and data rates and will need to be replaced with new technology in the near future. Photonic networks promise great improvements over electrical networks, but several key challenges still hinder their widespread deployment. This thesis focuses on addressing the problem of encoding and routing data inside integrated optical communication networks. This is accomplished through electrically driven optical switches or modulators that are able to produce a binary optical data stream from a binary electrical input signal. The primary metrics used to evaluate the performance of these devices are spatial footprint, modulation/switching speed, operating voltage and power consumption per bit. Secondary concerns are device bandwidth, CMOS compatibility, tolerance to fabrication errors and device losses. In this thesis, we present a theoretical design for an electrically driven optical switch utilizing hybrid silicon-insulator-metal waveguides with a 30 square micrometer footprint, 57 Gbit/s switching speed, 2.6 fJ/bit power consumption and 1V operation. We also present experimental confirmation of the optical properties of hybrid silicon-insulator-metal waveguides which form the basis of this design.