Silicon-based Photonic Devices Design, Fabrication and Characterization

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: The field of Information and Communication Technologies is witnessing a development speed unprecedented in history. Moore’s law proves that the processor speed and memory size are roughly doubling each 18 months, which is expected to continue in the next decade. If photonics is going to play a substantial role in the ICT market, it will have to follow the same dynamics. There are mainly two groups of components that need to be integrated. The active components, including light sources, electro-optic modulators, and detectors, are mostly fabricated in III-V semiconductors. The passive components, such as waveguides, resonators, couplers and splitters, need no power supply and can be realized in silicon-related semiconductors. The prospects of silicon photonics are particularly promising, the fabrication is mostly compatible with standard CMOS technology and the on-chip optical interconnects are expected to increase the speed of microprocessors to the next generation.This thesis starts with designs of various silicon-based devices using finite-difference time-domain simulations. Parallel computation is a powerful tool in the modeling of large-scale photonic circuits. High Q cavities and resonant channel drop filters are designed in photonic crystal platform. Different methods to couple light from a single mode fiber to silicon waveguides are studied by coupled-mode theory and verified using parallel simulations. The performance of waveguide grating coupler for vertical radiation is also studied.The fabrication of silicon-based photonic devices involves material deposition, E-beam or optical lithography for pattern defining, and plasma/wet-chemistry etching for pattern transfer. For nanometer-scaled structures, E-beam lithography is the most critical process. Depending on the structures of the devices, both positive resist (ZEP520A) and negative resist (maN2405) are used. The proximity and stitch issues are addressed by careful dose correction and patches exposure. Some examples are given including photonic crystal surface mode filter, micro-ring resonators and gold grating couplers. In particular, high Q (2.6×105), deep notch (40 dB) and resonance-splitting phenomenon are demonstrated for silicon ring resonators.It is challenging to couple light into photonic integrated circuits directly from a single-mode fiber. The butt-coupled light-injecting method usually causes large insertion loss due to small overlap of the mode profiles and large index mismatch. Practically it is not easy to cleave silicon sample with smooth facet where the waveguide exposes. By adding gold gratings to the waveguides, light can be injected and collected vertically from single-mode fiber. The coupling efficiency is much higher. There is no need to cleave the sample. The access waveguides are much shortened and the stitch problem in E-beam lithography is avoided.In summary, this thesis introduces parallel simulations for the design of modern large-scale photonic devices, addresses various issues with Si-based fabrication, and analyses the data from the characterization. Several novel devices using silicon nanowire waveguides and 2D photonic crystal structures have been demonstrated for the first time.