Photonic Devices and Applications based on Intersubband Transitions and Electromagnetically Induced Transparency

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: Although photonic devices have experienced a rapid development lately, there is still room for substantial improvements in performance. From a telecommunications perspective, improvements in speed, size, integration and power consumption are desired. There is also a general interest in photonic devices with new functionalities. Being a key component in fiber-optic systems, high-speed optical modulators often initiate the development towards higher bit-rates. The technology of current state-of-the-art modulators has matured suggesting new paths of development. In this thesis we investigate the potential of modulators based on intersubband (IS) transitions in quantum wells (QWs). Specific QW designs are suggested and complete modulator structures are simulated. IS absorption is also experimentally characterized. Absorption linewidth is critical for IS modulator performance since narrow linewidth implies high bandwidth and/or small driving voltage. High material quality is important, since linewidth is typically limited by well-width fluctuations and interface roughness.A mid-IR AlGaAs/GaAs-modulator is proposed having a RC-limited bandwidth of 130 GHz and a peak-to-peak voltage of 0.9 V. Experimentally, Stark shift is measured in InAlAs/InAlGaAs/InGaAs step QWs at ? ~ 6 ?m predicting that an IS modulator based on this material would have a bandwidth of 90 GHz and a peak-to-peak voltage of 0.9 V. IS absorption at 1.55 ?m requires material combinations with high conduction-band offset. Simulations of an InGaAs/InAlAs/AlAsSb-modulator predict a bandwidth of 90 GHz and a peak-to-peak voltage of 2.0 V. Experimental studies of IS absorption in AlN/GaN QWs are presented. IS absorption at 1.5-3.4 ?m with linewidth below 100 meV is measured for well widths between 15-54 Å. Subpeaks corresponding to well-width fluctuations on the monolayer scale are identified with linewidths of ~60 meV. Agreement between theoretical calculations and measured spectra is encouraging. Theoretical simulations together with measured absorption linewidths suggest that high performance IS modulators operating at 1.55 ?m are realizable.Photonic devices with new functionalities are addressed by investigating electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT) theoretically and considering potential applications based on EIT. Simulations of two-dimensional pulse-propagation based on the Maxwell-Bloch equations are performed with a focus on storing and reading out optical pulses. We explicitly formulate the phase-matching conditions for reading out stored pulses in a new direction and propose a serial-to-parallel converter based on this.For slow-light devices, e.g. optical buffers, we identify and analyze two main limitations on the medium bandwidth; the frequency dependent absorption and the group velocity dispersion. Since large bandwidth and large delay are contradictory requirements, the delay bandwidth product is considered. Analytical expressions are derived and analyzed and verified by simulations on pulse propagation. Insertion of parameters relevant for semiconductors indicates that development of materials with long coherence times are necessary for realizing optical buffers based on EIT.