Advent Calendar 2019

Putting up the Christmas tree

One of the goals of integrated photonics is the miniaturization of components. However, this often comes at a price of reduced flexibility in the choice of available materials and range of applications, since photonic integrated circuits are mostly limited to one material system with specific properties.

On the other hand, optical benches in laboratories provide a maximum of flexibility via optical paths created by mirrors and lenses, where optical materials can simply be inserted.

In order to overcome the limitations of integrated photonics and still keep the advantages in miniaturization, a micro-optical bench is developed on the PolyBoard. With microscopic lenses, called graded-index lenses, optical free-space paths are created on chip, which enable the insertion of materials formerly limited to optical benches in laboratories.

In UNIQORN, this approach is used for the on-chip integration of non-linear optical crystals for the generation of entangled photons. But today on Christmas Eve, we insert very special components.

Merry Christmas!

The real UNIQORN story

There was once a faraway land – a little rugged island. For Christmas there was neither a “Santa”, nor a “Christkind” nor a “Tomte”. Every child of the island was eagerly waiting for the Uniqorn, who would fulfil all the wishes of the island’s children…
Then came the day that one child dreamt of a light machine. Unfortunately it was too big for the Uniqorn to carry it. An idea struck the Uniqorn: “With my magical horn, I can shine light and shrink the machine”. When all was said and done, the machine was small enough for the Uniqorn to carry it over the sea. And thus it came to be that all the children of the little island could enjoy the wonders of a light machine.

(Jeanne, 10 years old)

This is the story how UNIQORN became expert in shrinking optical systems and is henceforth providing quantum communication for everyone.