Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is increasingly important in our daily life, but it is also a major consumer of energy. Thus, the main ICT societal challenges are to become faster as well as more energy-efficient. To meet both demands, photonics technology allows replacing electronic by optical transmission, while data processing affords higher bandwidths at reduced energy loss. In the coming ten years, the photonics World market will treble in size, reducing >10% the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions [1][2]. Energy saving will be much higher if all components are optimized, and optical-electrical-optical conversions minimized, by replacing semiconductor-based solutions with optical components.

This project aims to investigate various optically-active inorganic crystals using first-principles calculations in order to guide the development of new materials for integrated optical devices. Typically, we will consider non doped and lanthanide doped niobate phases (Y3NbO7, LiNbO3) low phonon energy oxides (Gd2O3, Y2O3), oxysulfides (Y2O2S, La2O2S) and nitrides. Their structural properties will be computed within density functional theory. For the electronic and linear/nonlinear optics properties, we will use methods ranging from the independent-particle approximation to many-body perturbation theory.

The project will benefit from interaction with experimental PhD project 2015-08. The interaction between both approaches will allow targeting the most promising materials and optimizing nonlinear and luminescence properties.

Fig 1. (left) Band structure of Y2O2S, (right) Reflectivity of Y2O2S undoped and doped with Dy, Eu, or both of them (adapted from [3]). The corresponding crystal structures are also illustrated with O, S, Y, Eu/Dy atoms in red, yellow, grey, and green.

The candidate will have a master degree or equivalent obtained with a high ranking (above 14/20) with skills in computational physics and materials science. The candidate has to be motivated, curious and deeply involved in the research project. He/She will share time between the University of Luxembourg (50%) and the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) (50%). A few months will be dedicated to a collaboration project at QuantumWise [4].

[1]    Photonics Technologies and Markets for a Low Carbon Economy,
European Commission Report (2010/0066)
[2]    A. A. M. Saleh and J.M. Simmons, All-Optical Networking – Evolution, Benefits, Challenges, and Future Vision, Proc. of the IEEE, 100, 5, (2012), p. 1105
[3]    S. Som et al., Dalton Trans. 43, 9860 (2014).

Project Partners

Physics and Materials Science Research Unit, University Luxembourg (Prof. Ludger Wirtz): structural and electronic properties

Institute of Condensed Matter and Nanosciences, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium (Prof. G.-M. Rignanese): optical and nonlinear optical properties

Industry Partner: QuantumWise, Denmark (Dr. K. Stokbro): Virtual NanoLab graphical user interface

Host Country (employment): Luxembourg

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