Skoltech showcases its groundbreaking solutions at ‘Photonics 2024’
Image. Skoltech and SIOM’s Joint Lab stand

The joint lab of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) and the Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (SIOM) presented its breakthrough solutions, including photonic integrated circuits, a high-resolution mass spectrometer with femtosecond laser ionization, and a fiber-optic structural monitoring system, at the 18th international exhibition of laser, optical and optoelectronic technology — “Photonics. World of Lasers and Optics 2024” — held on March 26−29 in the Expocentre’s Forum pavilion. The exhibits are on display at the stand of SIOM’s Laser Components company.

Photonic integrated circuits: At the cutting edge of photonics
Image. Photonic integrated circuits under the microscope

Photonic integrated circuits (PICs) that form the core of next generation photonic devices are miniature chips created using semiconductor manufacturing technologies. A PIC can accommodate lasers, modulators, receivers, spectrometers and microelectronics, and other optical components required to create a receiver and transmitter of quantum data and other information. PICs help reduce the size, weight and power consumption of various devices, such as quantum key distribution systems, enabling their integration into wearable devices. PICs compare in performance with discrete optical components and enable achieving quantum state frequencies in the gigahertz band.

The PICsTech startup led by Associate Professor Arkady Shipulin from the Applied Photonics Center develops and manufactures PIC-based devices for the Russian telecommunications market.

High-resolution mass spectrometer: An innovative substance analysis technology
Image. High-resolution mass spectrometer with femtosecond laser ionization

A high-resolution mass spectrometer for femtosecond laser ionization of molecules is another remarkable product presented by Skoltech. All mass spectrometers are designed to identify the structure of various compounds by determining the weight of ionized molecules in a sample. However, ionization and analysis techniques can vary greatly depending on the task at hand.

The mass spectrometer developed by the team led by Professor Evgeny Nikolaev, the head of the Skoltech Mass Spectrometry Laboratory and a corresponding member of Russian Academy of Sciences, is quite special in that it will use a femtosecond ionization laser created by SIOM. The laser can generate ultrashort pulses of about 10^-15 seconds, thus creating a unique ionization environment for the molecules and preventing their overheating. Unlike other methods, such as lasers, which can ruin molecules, femtosecond laser ionization enables “weighing” the molecules without destroying their structure, which is critical for accurate identification.

The ionized particles in an electric field oscillate at frequencies, which depend on their mass, and these frequencies are measured to determine the mass. Thanks to its high measurement accuracy, this method helps identify molecules with a high degree of reliability, opening up new opportunities for the research of new materials and substances, as well as the development of molecular diagnostic applications for medicine.

Fiber-optic system for structural monitoring of pipeline on permafrost soil in the Arctic
Image. Fiber Pipe prototype

The exhibition also features a prototype of FiberPipe, a fiber-optic structural monitoring system developed  by a team of PhD and master's students from Skoltech in cooperation with the Integrated Photonics Department of the Zelenograd Nanotechnology Center. The system monitors the movements of pipeline supports in the Arctic in real time within a range of up to ten kilometers, thus helping to prevent pipe damage and oil spills. With its compact size, low power consumption, high sensitivity, and data acquisition speed, the system outperforms many existing solutions. The Zelenograd Nanotechnology Center provided the key component of the sensor interrogation device (interrogator) - the AWG integrated optical module, which is on display at the Center's stand.

The exhibition organized by the Expocentre jointly with the Laser Association under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation features over 260 manufacturers and suppliers from all over the world.