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FISNT Report Summary

Project ID: 279770
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Germany

Mid-Term Report Summary - FISNT (Frontiers of Integrated Silicon Nanophotonics in Telecommunications)

In the first project period of the Project “Frontiers of Integrated Silicon Nanophotonics in Telecommunications” (FISNT) funded by the European Research Council (ERC) we have made significant progress on Silicon Photonics chip interfaces with relaxed alignment tolerances in view of facilitating the assembly of Silicon Photonics systems with autonomous pick-and-place machinery [1-2], on enhancing the modulation bandwidth of silicon photonics electro-optic modulators [3-5], on integrating ultra high-quality factor resonators with mainstream Silicon Photonics, and on providing cost effective lab-on-a-chip test vehicles for bio-photonics applications [6-8].

The implementation of optics in silicon chips, in short, Silicon Photonics, offers the opportunity to realize densely integrated photonic circuits at the chip scale with the manufacturing infrastructure that was developed for electronic integrated circuits, with applications to optical data transport (via the realization of silicon based electro-optic data converters), medicine and bio-sciences (via, e.g., the optical identifications of molecules) and instrumentation. An important handicap, however, remains in the complexity and relatively high cost associated with packaging the technology (compared to the manufacturing cost of a single silicon chip) and combining it, e.g., with optical fibers and off-chip lasers. The coupling devices we have developed facilitate the assembly of such systems, in particular the hybrid integration of external lasers with Silicon Photonics chips, by relaxing required alignment tolerance to the point where autonomous pick-an-place machinery can do the assembly with minimal human intervention. With our devices, misplacement of a laser providing light for several communication channels results in offsetting the relative phase of the light coupled to them while maintaining equalized power coupling. Since the former is irrelevant to parallel optics transmitters, the misplacement is accommodated in an elegant and practical way.

The efficiency of Silicon Photonics modulators can be enhanced by embedding them into resonant structures, i.e, nanostructures in which the light can be stored for a prolonged time. In these structures, the bandwidth of the modulator is however also limited by the light storage duration, the same effect that gives rise to the modulation efficiency enhancement in the first place. We have been able to extend the envelope of this trade-off by exploiting complex time dynamics inside the micro-resonators giving rise to peaking, a transient enhancement of the modulation at predefined and selectable modulation frequencies. We are also incorporating ultra-high-quality-factor resonators able to store light for durations on the order of a microsecond in chips with mainstream Silicon Photonics. These add additional functionality to existing Silicon Photonics capabilities and can serve for on-chip light conversion as well as metrology applications.

Finally, we have been able to adapt devices developed for optical communications to a cost effective lab-on-a-chip technology platform for fluorescent bio-sensing applications in the medical and biosciences. Waveguide based optics are fabricated in the so-called back-end of micro-electronic chips, the stack of thin films on top of the silicon in which electrical chip interconnects are usually fabricated. These optics allow distributing light throughout the chip and conducting biosensing assays in a massively parallelized fashion. Since chips are only used once, they need to be a very cheap consumable, so that the compatibility of Silicon Photonics with semiconductor mass manufacturing is particularly relevant here.

[1] S. Romero-García, B. Marzban, F. Merget, B. Shen, J. Witzens, “Edge Couplers with relaxed Alignment Tolerance for Pick-and-Place Hybrid Integration of III-V Lasers with SOI Waveguides,” J. Sel. Top. Quant. Elec. 20(4), special issue on Silicon Photonics (2014).

[2] S. Romero-García, B. Marzban, S. Sharif Azadeh, F. Merget, B. Shen, J. Witzens, “Misalignment tolerant couplers for hybrid integration of semiconductor lasers with silicon photonics parallel transmitters,” Proc. SPIE 9133, Article 91331A (2014).

[3] F. Merget, S. Sharif Azadeh, J. Mueller, B. Shen, M. P. Nezhad, J. Hauck, J. Witzens, "Silicon photonics plasma-modulators with advanced transmission line design,” Optics Express 21(17), 19593-19607 (2013).

[4] F. Merget, S. Sharif Azadeh, J. Mueller, B. Shen, M. P. Nezhad, J. Hauck, J. Witzens, “Novel Transmission Lines for Si MZI Modulators,” Proc. IEEE Int. Conf. Group IV Phot., 61-62 (2013).

[5] J. Müller, F. Merget, S. Sharif Azadeh, J. Hauck, S. Romero García, B. Shen, “Optical Peaking Enhancement in High-Speed Ring Modulators,” in review.

[6] S. Romero-García, F. Merget, F. Zhong, H. Finkelstein, J. Witzens, “Silicon nitride CMOS-compatible platform for integrated photonics applications at visible wavelengths,” Opt. Express 21, 14037-14046 (2013).

[7] S. Romero-García, F. Merget, F. Zhong, H. Finkelstein, J. Witzens, “Visible wavelength silicon nitride focusing grating coupler with AlCu/TiN reflector,” Opt. Lett. 38, 2521-2523 (2013).

[8] J. Witzens, S. Romero García, F. Merget, “Silicon nitride back-end optics for biosensor applications,” Proc. SPIE 8781, 87810W (2013).

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