New materials for optically rewriteable photonic components and chips

Physical Sciences : Materials and Compounds

Available for licensing


  • Yuebing Zheng
  • Linhan Lin, Ph.D. , Texas Materials Institute
  • Mingsong Wang

Background/unmet need

Rewritable integrated photonics can significantly enhance functions and operation security of traditional photonic technologies. Tremendous efforts have led to standalone rewritable photonic components based on resistive switching of phase-change materials. However, to develop rewritable integrated circuits, one need different strategies to confine light within a two-dimensional plane, where the light can travel in the plane over a long distance and be arbitrarily controlled in terms of its propagation direction, amplitude, frequency and phase.

Researchers have invented new material to achieve the goal. We have demonstrated rewritable optical waveguides and modulators based on new material. Optical waveguides and light modulators are the building blocks in optical chips, which are critical in the development of optical interconnect circuits.

Current fabrication techniques rely on rigorous cleanroom procedure like photolithography, E-beam lithography, FIB etching, which greatly increases the fabrication cost. Specifically, the fabrication of these optical components based on various semiconductor materials is permanent and irreversible. It is also challenging to transfer these optical components to the flexible substrate for the development of flexible photonic devices. To overcome these challenges, we exploit the strong interaction between molecular excitons and the HPWMs to achieve optically controlled light modulation and light guiding in a reversible manner. 

Invention Description

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have invented new material to enable rewritable integrated photonics. In their demonstrations, we exploit the integration of photochromic molecules into a hybrid structure consisted of a plamsonic nanoparticle arrays and a polymer waveguides to achieve the strong exciton-HPWM coupling with a giant Rabi splitting of 572 meV. By harnessing the photoswitchable Rabi splitting, we develop the light modulators and waveguides by alternative illumination of our devices with ultraviolet light and green laser. With its low fabrication cost, high production efficiency, simple optical setup and rewriteable capability, this techniques will provide a new optical platform to fabricate diverse optical components for the application of optical interconnect circuit.


  • Much lower fabrication cost
  • Higher fabrication efficiency
  • Simple optical setup and rewriteable capability


  • Low fabrication cost
  • Scalable to commercialization
  • Rewriteable capability
  • Low-power and all-optical operation

Market potential/applications

 Companies that have business or products for semiconductors.

Development Stage

Lab/bench prototype

IP Status

  • 1 U.S. patent application filed