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Physics Colloquium

Speaker: Alexander Gumennik Location: LD 010

VLSI for "Smart" Fibers

Alexander Gumennik


Fibers, while ubiquitous, are usually passive. Optoelectronics realized in a fiber could revolutionize multiple application areas, including biosynthetic and wearable electronics, environmental sensing, and energy harvesting. However, the realization of high-performance electronics in a fiber remains a grand challenge due to the elusiveness of a material processing strategy that would allow wrapping devices made in crystalline semiconductors, such as silicon, into a fiber in an ordered, addressable, and scalable manner. Current fiber-sensors fabrication approaches are either non-scalable or limit the choice of semiconductors to the amorphous ones, such as chalcogenide glasses, inferior to silicon in their electronic performance, resulting in limited bandwidth and sensitivity of such sensors when compared to a standard silicon photodiode.

Our laboratory substantiates a universal in-fiber manufacturing of integrated circuits and sensory systems analogous to Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI), which enabled the emergence of the modern microprocessor. We develop a versatile hybrid-fabrication methodology that assembles in-fiber material architectures typical to integrated microelectronic devices and systems in silica, silicon, and high-temperature metals. This methodology, dubbed "VLSI for Fibers", or "VLSI-Fi", combines 3D printing of preforms, a thermal draw of fibers, and post-draw assembly of fiber-embedded integrated devices by means of material-selective spatially coherent capillary break-up of the fiber cores. We believe that this method will deliver a new class of durable, low cost, pervasive fiber devices and sensors, enabling integration of fabrics met in human-made objects, such as furniture and apparel, into the Internet of Things (IoT). Furthermore, it will boost innovation in 3D printing, extending the digital manufacturing approach into electronics realm.


Refreshments will be served in LD 154B from 3:00-3:30pm.