Technology for photonic components in silica/silicon material structure

University dissertation from Kista : Mikroelektronik och informationsteknik

Abstract: The main objectives of this thesis were to develop a lowtemperature PECVD process suitable for optoelectronicintegration, and to optimize silica glass composition forUV-induced modifications of a refractive index in PECVDfabricated planar devices. The most important achievement isthe successful development of a low temperature silicadeposition, which for the first time makes it is possible tofabricate good quality low loss integrated components whilekeeping the temperature below 250oC during the entirefabrication process. Two strong absorption peaks thatappear at1.5 mm communication window due to N-H and Si-H bonds have beencompletely eliminated by process optimization. This openspossibilities for monolithic integration with other,temperature sensitive devices, such as semiconductor lasers anddetectors, or polymer-based structures on the common siliconplatform. PECVD technology for low loss amorphous silicon inapplication to SiO2/Si based photonic crystal structures hasbeen also optimized to remove hydrogen incorporated during thedeposition process, responsible for the porosity of thedeposited material and creation of similar to silica absorptionbands.Change of the refractive index of germanium doped silicaunder UV irradiation is commonly used for fabrication of UVinduced fiber Bragg gratings. Here we describe our achievementsin fabrication of fiber Bragg gratings and their application todistributed sensor systems. Recently we have built up a laserlab for UV treatment in application to planar technology. Wehave demonstrated the high photosensitivity of PECVD depositedGe-doped glasses (not thermally annealed) even without hydrogenloading, leading to a record transmission suppression of 47dBin a Bragg grating photoinduced in a straight buried channelwaveguide. We have also used a UV induced refractive indexchange to introduce other device modifications or functions,such as phase shift, wavelength trimming and control ofpolarization birefringence.The developed low temperature technology and the UVprocessing form a unique technology platform for development ofnovel integrated functional devices for optical communicationsystems.A substantial part of the thesis has been devoted tostudying different plasma deposition parameters and theirinfluence on the optical characteristics of fabricatedwaveguides to find the processing window giving the besttrade-off between the deposition rate,chamber temperatureduring the process, optical losses and presence of absorptionbands within the interesting wavelength range. The optimalconditions identified in this study are low pressure (300-400mTorr), high dilution of silane in nitrous oxide and high totalflow (2000 sccm), low frequency (380 KHz) RF source and high RFpower levels (800-1000 W).The thesis provides better understanding of the plasmareactions during the deposition process. RF Power is the keyparameter for increasing the rate of surface processes so as toaccommodate each atomic layer in the lowest energy statepossible. All the process conditions which favor a moreenergetic ion bombardment (i.e. low pressure, low frequency andhigh power) improve the quality of the material, making it moredense and similar to thermal oxide, but after a certain pointthe positive trend with increasing power saturates. As theenergy of the incoming ion increases, a competing effect setsin at the surface: ion induced damage and resputtering.Finally, the developed technologies were applied for thefabrication of some test and new concept devices for opticalcommunication systems including multimode interference (MMI)-based couplers/splitters, state-of-the-art arrayed waveguidegrating-based multi/ demultiplexers, the first Bragg gratingassisted MMI-based add-drop multiplexer, as well as moreresearch oriented devices such as a Mach-Zehnder switch basedon silica poling and a Photonic Crystal-based coupler.Keywords:silica-on-silicon technology, PECVD, plasmadeposition, photonic integrated circuits, planar waveguidedevices, UV Bragg gratings, photosensitivity, arrayed waveguidegratings, multimode interference couplers, add-dropmultiplexers.