AI2O3:ER3+ as a gain platform for integrated optics


Bradley, Jonathan David Barnes (2009) AI2O3:ER3+ as a gain platform for integrated optics. thesis.

Abstract:Integrated optical devices are used in numerous applications in medicine, imaging, sensing, and telecommunications. The goal of integration is to reduce the size and cost of devices by realizing many functions on a single chip. Materials such as silicon and silicon nitride have been optimized for passive photonic functions on the chip. However, there is still a need for active devices, such as amplifiers and lasers, which enhance and generate lightwave signals and are compatible with those materials. Amorphous erbium-doped aluminum oxide (Al2O3:Er3+) is a promising optically-pumped gain medium, due to its broad emission spectrum around telecom wavelengths of 1.53 µm, the high transparency of Al2O3 and its higher refractive index contrast compared to other Er-doped glass waveguide materials, which allows for higher integration density. In this thesis Al2O3:Er3+ has been investigated and optimized as a gain medium. Deposition of Al2O3:Er3+ thin films using RF co-sputtering was explored, resulting in low-loss, uniform, as-deposited waveguiding films on thermally oxidized silicon wafers. A new structuring procedure using reactive ion etching was developed, resulting in channel waveguides with low optical propagation losses. In order to determine the maximum gain, Al2O3:Er3+ channel waveguide amplifiers with varying Er concentrations were fabricated and characterized. Peak net gain of 2.0 dB/cm was measured at a wavelength of 1533 nm, while net gain was measured over a wavelength range of 80 nm when pumping at 977 nm. Based on the broad and high gain, various novel on-chip devices were realized. A zero-loss optical power splitter operating over the entire C-band (1525-1565 nm) and requiring < 50 mW of 977 nm pump power was demonstrated. Signal transmission at 170 Gbit/s without added bit-error penalty was achieved in an Al2O3:Er3+ amplifier. Finally, the first integrated Al2O3:Er3+ ring laser was realized. Laser emission was demonstrated over the wavelength range 1530-1557 nm by adjusting the output coupling. In future, such Al2O3:Er3+ amplifiers and lasers can be applied for signal enhancement or as broadly tunable or short-pulsed light sources in integrated photonic circuits for a wide variety of applications.
Item Type:Thesis
Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS)
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