Integrated modulators of optical phase or intensity are essential elements to reconfigure dynamically the operation of a complex waveguide circuit, or to achieve convenient optical switching within a fiber network. Thermo-optic effects are commonly exploited to achieve dynamic phase modulation in glass-based devices, since nonlinear optical effects are weak in such substrates. Thermo-optic modulators rely on electric resistive heaters patterned on top of the waveguides: they are reliable and easy to fabricate, but they suffer from slow response, dictated by the thermal diffusion dynamics. On the other hand, optically-coupled microstructures in glass, driven at their mechanical resonances, may provide interesting possibilities to achieve modulation of the optical signals in the kilohertz range and higher. In this work, we demonstrate integrated-optics intensity modulators based on micro-cantilevers with resonant oscillation frequencies in the tens-of-kilohertz range. The mechanical structures are realized in alumino-borosilicate glass substrate by water-assisted femtosecond-laser ablation. With the same femtosecond laser an optical waveguide is inscribed within the oscillating beam; a waveguide also continues in the substrate beyond the cantilever's tip. Since the entire device, with all its optical and mechanical parts, is realized in a single fabrication process, relative alignment is guaranteed. If the cantilever is at rest, light propagating in the internal waveguide yields maximum coupling to the remaining part of the waveguide. When the device is excited at resonance by means of a piezo-electric actuator, the cantilever oscillation produces periodical variations of the coupling efficiency, with an observed contrast higher than 10 dB.
Michele Spagnolo, Roberto Memeo, Riccardo Motta, Francesco Pellegatta, Andrea Crespi, and Roberto Osellame, "Resonant micro-opto-mechanical modulators fabricated by femtosecond laser micromachining," Proc. SPIE 11270, Frontiers in Ultrafast Optics: Biomedical, Scientific, and Industrial Applications XX, 112701B (Presented at SPIE LASE: February 03, 2020; Published: 2 March 2020); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2544354.
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