Academic Appointments

All Publications

  • Polarization-insensitive wide-angle resonant acousto-optic phase modulator OPTICS LETTERS Atalar, O., Arbabian, A. 2024; 49 (8): 2141-2144


    Phase modulators are commonly used devices in optics. Free-space phase modulators are typically constructed from optically anisotropic crystals exhibiting the Pockels effect. To preserve the light's polarization state as it propagates through the crystal, it is essential to align the polarization and the angle of incidence of the light with respect to the crystal. In this study, we demonstrate the feasibility of constructing free-space resonant phase modulators with a broad acceptance angle and minimal dependence on the polarization state of light using an acousto-optic approach. These modulators operate in the megahertz frequency range, require modest power levels, have aperture sizes exceeding 1 cm2, and feature sub-millimeter thickness.

    View details for DOI 10.1364/OL.514333

    View details for Web of Science ID 001246241900009

    View details for PubMedID 38621096

  • Optically isotropic longitudinal piezoelectric resonant photoelastic modulator for wide angle polarization modulation at megahertz frequencies. Journal of the Optical Society of America. A, Optics, image science, and vision Atalar, O., Arbabian, A. 2023; 40 (12): 2249-2258


    Polarization modulators have a broad range of applications in optics. The acceptance angle of a free-space polarization modulator is crucial for many applications. Polarization modulators that can achieve a wide acceptance angle are constructed by attaching a piezoelectric transducer to an isotropic material, and utilizing a resonant transverse interaction between light and acoustic waves. Since their demonstration in the 1960s, the design of these modulators has essentially remained the same with minor improvements in the following decades. In this work, we show that a suitable single crystal with the correct crystal orientation, functioning as both the piezoelectric transducer and the acousto-optic interaction medium, could be used for constructing a highly efficient free-space resonant polarization modulator operating at megahertz frequencies and exhibiting a wide acceptance angle. We construct the modulator using gallium arsenide, an optically isotropic and piezoelectric crystal, and demonstrate polarization modulation at 6MHz with an input aperture of 1cm in diameter, acceptance angle reaching ±30∘, and modulation efficiency exceeding 50%. Compared to state-of-the-art resonant photoelastic modulators, the modulator reported in this work exhibits greater than 50-fold improvement in modulation frequency for the same input aperture, while simultaneously reducing the thickness by approximately a factor of 80. Increasing the modulation frequency of photoelastic modulators from the kilohertz to the megahertz regime and substantially reducing their thickness lead to significant performance improvements for various use cases. This technological advancement also creates opportunities for utilizing these devices in new applications.

    View details for DOI 10.1364/JOSAA.500167

    View details for PubMedID 38086033

  • Tunable dual wavelength laser on thin film lithium niobate Lufungula, I., Mayor, F. M., Herrmann, J. F., Park, T., Stokowski, H. S., Hwang, A. Y., De Beeck, C., Atalar, O., Jiang, W., Kuyken, B., Safavi-Naeini, A. H., IEEE IEEE. 2023
  • Y-Z cut lithium niobate longitudinal piezoelectric resonant photoelastic modulator OPTICS EXPRESS Atalar, O., Yee, S., Safavi-Naeini, A., Arbabian, A. 2022; 30 (26): 47103-47114


    The capability to modulate the intensity of an optical beam has scientific and practical significance. In this work, we demonstrate Y-Z cut lithium niobate acousto-optic modulators with record-high modulation efficiency, requiring only 1.5 W/cm2 for 100% modulation at 7 MHz. These modulators use a simple fabrication process; coating the top and bottom surfaces of a thin lithium niobate wafer with transparent electrodes. The fundamental shear acoustic mode of the wafer is excited through the transparent electrodes by applying voltage with frequency corresponding to the resonant frequency of this mode, confining an acoustic standing wave to the electrode region. Polarization of light propagating through this region is modulated at the applied frequency. Polarization modulation is converted to intensity modulation by placing the modulator between polarizers. To showcase an important application space for this modulator, we integrate it with a standard image sensor and demonstrate 4 megapixel time-of-flight imaging.

    View details for DOI 10.1364/OE.476970

    View details for Web of Science ID 000914755600002

    View details for PubMedID 36558647

  • Longitudinal piezoelectric resonant photoelastic modulator for efficient intensity modulation at megahertz frequencies. Nature communications Atalar, O., Van Laer, R., Safavi-Naeini, A. H., Arbabian, A. 2022; 13 (1): 1526


    Intensity modulators are an essential component in optics for controlling free-space beams. Many applications require the intensity of a free-space beam to be modulated at a single frequency, including wide-field lock-in detection for sensitive measurements, mode-locking in lasers, and phase-shift time-of-flight imaging (LiDAR). Here, we report a new type of single frequency intensity modulator that we refer to as a longitudinal piezoelectric resonant photoelastic modulator. The modulator consists of a thin lithium niobate wafer coated with transparent surface electrodes. One of the fundamental acoustic modes of the modulator is excited through the surface electrodes, confining an acoustic standing wave to the electrode region. The modulator is placed between optical polarizers; light propagating through the modulator and polarizers is intensity modulated with a wide acceptance angle and record breaking modulation efficiency in the megahertz frequency regime. As an illustration of the potential of our approach, we show that the proposed modulator can be integrated with a standard image sensor to effectively convert it into a time-of-flight imaging system.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-022-29204-9

    View details for PubMedID 35318321

  • III/V-on-lithium niobate amplifiers and lasers OPTICA de Beeck, C., Mayor, F. M., Cuyvers, S., Poelman, S., Herrmann, J. F., Atalar, O., McKenna, T. P., Haq, B., Jiang, W., Witmer, J. D., Roelkens, G., Safavi-Naeini, A. H., Van Laer, R., Kuyken, B. 2021; 8 (10): 1288-1289
  • Spectrally sparse optical coherence tomography OPTICS EXPRESS Atalar, O., Millar, D. S., Wang, P., Koike-Akino, T., Kojima, K., Orlik, P., Parsons, K. 2020; 28 (25): 37798–810


    Swept-source optical coherence tomography (OCT) typically relies on expensive and complex swept-source lasers, the cost of which currently limits the suitability of OCT for new applications. In this work, we demonstrate spectrally sparse OCT utilizing randomly spaced low-bandwidth optical chirps, suitable for low-cost implementation with telecommunications grade devices. Micron scale distance estimation accuracy with a resolution of 40 μm at a standoff imaging distance greater than 10 cm is demonstrated using a stepped chirp approach with approximately 23% occupancy of 4 THz bandwidth. For imaging of sparse scenes, comparable performance to full bandwidth occupancy is verified for metallic targets.

    View details for DOI 10.1364/OE.409539

    View details for Web of Science ID 000596707100059

    View details for PubMedID 33379608

  • Lithium Niobate Resonant Photoelastic Modulator for Time-of-Flight Imaging Atalar, O., Van Laer, R., Sarabalis, C. J., Safavi-Naeini, A. H., Arbabian, A., IEEE IEEE. 2020
  • Photonics-to-Free-Space Interface in Lithium Niobate-on-Sapphire Rajabzadeh, T., Sarabalis, C. J., Atalar, O., Safavi-Naeini, A. H., IEEE IEEE. 2020
  • Time-of-flight imaging based on resonant photoelastic modulation APPLIED OPTICS Atalar, O., Van Laer, R., Sarabalis, C. J., Safavi-Naeini, A. H., Arbabian, A. 2019; 58 (9): 2235–47