Theses Doctoral

Silicon Photonics: All-Optical Devices for Linear and Nonlinear Applications

Driscoll, Jeffrey

Silicon photonics has grown rapidly since the first Si electro-optic switch was demonstrated in 1987, and the field has never grown more quickly than it has over the past decade, fueled by milestone achievements in semiconductor processing technologies for low loss waveguides, high-speed Si modulators, Si lasers, Si detectors, and an enormous toolbox of passive and active integrated devices. Silicon photonics is now on the verge of major commercialization breakthroughs, and optical communication links remain the force driving integrated and Si photonics towards the first commercial telecom and datacom transceivers; however other potential and future applications are becoming uncovered and refined as researchers reveal the benefits of manipulating photons on the nanoscale.
This thesis documents an exploration into the unique guided-wave and nonlinear properties of deeply-scaled high-index-contrast sub-wavelength Si waveguides. It is found that the tight confinement inherent to single-mode channel waveguides on the silicon-on-insulator platform lead to a rich physics, which can be leveraged for new devices extending well beyond simple passive interconnects and electro-optic devices.
The following chapters will concentrate, in detail, on a number of unique physical features of Si waveguides and extend these attributes towards new and interesting devices. Linear optical properties and nonlinear optical properties are investigated, both of which are strongly affected by tight optical confinement of the guided waveguide modes.
As will be shown, tight optical confinement directly results in strongly vectoral modal components, where the electric and magnetic fields of the guided modes extend into all spatial dimensions, even along the axis of propagation. In fact, the longitudinal electric and magnetic field components can be just as strong as the transverse fields, directly affecting the modal group velocity and energy transport properties since the longitudinal fields are shown to contribute no time-averaged momentum. Furthermore, the vectoral modal components, in conjunction with the tensoral nature of the third-order susceptibility of Si, lead to nonlinear properties which are dependent on waveguide orientation with respect to the Si parent crystal and the construction of the modal electric field components. This consideration is used to maximize effective nonlinearity and realize nonlinear Kerr gratings along specific waveguide trajectories.
Tight optical confinement leads to a natural enhancement of the intrinsically large effective nonlinearty of Si waveguides, and in fact, the effective nonlinearty can be made to be almost 10^6 times greater in Si waveguides than that of standard single-mode fiber. Such a large nonlinearity motivates chip-scale all-optical signal processing techniques. Wavelength conversion by both four-wave-mixing (FWM) and cross-phase-modulation (XPM) will be discussed, including a technique that allows for enhanced broadband discrete FWM over arbitrary spectral spans by modulating both the linear and nonlinear waveguide properties through periodic changes in waveguide geometry. This quasi-phase-matching approach has very real applications
towards connecting mature telecom sources detectors and components to other spectral regimes, including the mid-IR. Other signal processing techniques such as all-optical modulation format conversion via XPM will also be discussed.
This thesis will conclude by looking at ways to extend the bandwidth capacity of Si waveguide interconnects on chip. As the number of processing cores continues to scale as a means for computational performance gains, on-chip link capacity will become an increasingly important issue. Metallic traces have severe limitations and are envisioned to eventually bow to integrated photonic links. The aggregate bandwidth supported by a single waveguide link will therefore become a crucial consideration as integrated photonics approaches the CPU. One way to increase aggregate bandwidth is to utilize different eigen-modes of a multimode waveguide, and integrated waveguide mode-muxes and demuxes for achieving simultaneous mode-division-multiplexing and wavelength-division-multiplexing will be demonstrated.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Electrical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Osgood, Jr., Richard M.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2014