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Silicon Photonics Process Technology

Miniaturising photonic components offers tantalising possibilities to achieve integration levels comparable to current electronic integrated circuits, which would mean increased performance at lower costs.

One possible route towards this goal would be to use photonic crystals: artificial nanostructures with a periodicity on the order of the wavelength. These structures can be engineered to exhibit a photonic band gap, i.e. a region of frequencies where light cannot propagate through the crystal. After introducing line or point defects in these crystals, one can create very small waveguides or cavities, as well as more complex optical functionality on length scales much smaller smaller than in traditional photonic integrated circuits.

We are very active in this field, and our research efforts range from advanced mass-fabrication techniques, over novel device designs, to efficient modelling techniques. Some highlights include the use of deep-UV lithography to fabricate photonic crystals in SOI, the design and fabrication of efficient surface couplers to butt-couple light into monomode fibre, and the use of compact mode-converters to couple waveguides of different width.

Stitched SEM image of a fibre coupler/polarisation splitter, connected to a compact spot-size convertor that couples to a wire embedded in a photonic crystal

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