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Vertical coupling facilitates photonics-integrated circuits

EU-funded scientists have demonstrated that novel optomechanical architectures enable integration on silicon chips. Results open the door to exciting new photonics-integrated circuit devices not previously possible.
Vertical coupling facilitates photonics-integrated circuits
Just as electronics exploits the electron, photonics manipulates light and other forms of electromagnetic (EM) radiation whose quantum unit is the photon. Using optical forces or radiation pressure to manipulate matter has given birth to the field of optomechanics. In optomechanical photonic systems, optical and mechanical modes are coupled.

One of the key components of photonics circuits is the optical cavity or resonator, consisting of a mechanical oscillator and a system that guides the light. The resonators can be made of active or passive materials, the former changing properties in response to light and the latter remaining constant. Scientists studied both systems with the goal of integrating them on silicon chips with EU funding of the project 'Active and passive photonics with coupled optomechanical resonators' (APPCOPTOR).

Studies of vertical coupling between a passive resonator and a bus waveguide (co-planar resonator gap), in which the resonator is placed above the waveguide, provided groundbreaking results with important implications for optical circuits. Scientists demonstrated that due to the vertical gap, there is more than one condition of relative maximum power. They also demonstrated the integration of ultra-high quality (UHQ) factor resonators with the bus waveguide. Typically, the potential of such microresonators has remained untapped due to their incompatibility with the planar configurations required of silicon-based circuits.

Investigators made important progress regarding active gain materials for non-linear optical amplification in nanocrystalline–silicon (nc–Si) devices. Optical bistability (OB) is a non-linear property of a resonator having two stable output states of transmission for a single optical input. It has been the subject of intense investigation for its direct relevance to fully optical switches, logic gates and memories. Results support the possibility of engineering efficient non-linear optical devices with nc–Si based UHQ resonator devices.

APPCOPTOR scientists advanced current understanding of optomechanics and its implementation in photonics-integrated circuits. Project outcomes are expected to lead to novel photonics devices with exciting potential for overcoming the size and functionality limitations of conventional electronics.

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