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EU-Funded Project Developing NIR Spectrograph "On-A-Chip"

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POTSDAM, Germany, July 10, 2024 — The Leibniz Institutes for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) and Innovations for High Performance Microelectronics (IHP) will lead the PICS4SENS joint project in collaboration with the innoFSPEC transfer laboratory at the University of Potsdam. The project is set to receive €3.4 million ($3.7 million) from the European Regional Development Fund over a four-year period.

The project’s goal is to increase the technological maturity of photonic integrated circuits (PICs) and shorten their path to commercialization. More specifically, PICS4SENS seeks to develop a spectrograph on a chip.
The PICS4SENS project seeks to develop a near-infrared spectrograph on-a-chip (inset) to enable broader application potential due to its greatly reduced size compared to the NIRspec instrument (shown) developed for the James Webb Space Telescope. Courtesy of Astron/AIP.
The PICS4SENS project seeks to develop a NIR spectrograph on a chip (inset) to enable broader application potential due to its greatly reduced size compared to the NIRspec instrument (shown) developed for the James Webb Space Telescope. Courtesy of Astron/AIP.

To that end, the project will refine a design created by researchers at Leibniz AIP. Led by Kalaga Madhav, the team developed a spectrograph active in the NIR range called the Potsdam Arrayed Waveguide Spectrograph (PAWS). With PAWS, a highly sensitive image sensor is cooled to a temperature of -190°C in order to electronically record the chip's high-resolution spectrum.

The cooling housing features a rather bulky design compared to the chip. That bulkiness is being targeted by the PICS4SENS project, which will leverage Leibniz IHP’s expertise to integrate the image sensor into the PIC. The completed device is expected to lead to breakthroughs in astrophysical instrumentation and provide market opportunities in agricultural technology, mobility, healthcare, food technology, and chemistry.

Published: July 2024
Glossary
chip
1. A localized fracture at the end of a cleaved optical fiber or on a glass surface. 2. An integrated circuit.
spectrograph
An optical instrument for forming the spectrum of a light source and recording it on a film. The dispersing medium may be a prism or a diffraction grating. A concave grating requires no other means to form a sharp image of the slit on the film, but a plane grating or a prism requires auxiliary lenses or concave mirrors to act as image-forming means in addition to the dispersing element. Refracting prisms can be used only in parallel light, so a collimating lens is required before the prism and...
Businessfundingphotonic integrated circuitsPICPICsPICS4SENSEuropean UnionEuropean Regional Development FundERDFProjectLeibniz Institute for Astrophysics PotsdamLeibniz Institute for Innovations for High Performance MicroelectronicsLeibniz AIPLeibniz IHPUniversity of Potsdamspectroscopychipspectrographon-chipEurope

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