In the investigation we demonstrated technique of direct femtosecond laser writing of tracks with induced refractive index at record low depth under surface of lithium niobate (3-15 μm). It was shown that with the help of proposed technique one can be written claddings of near surface optical waveguides that plays a key role in fabrication of fast electro-optical modulators with low operating voltage. Fundamental problem resolved in the investigation consists in suppression of negative factors impeding femtosecond inscription of waveguides at low depths. To prevent optical breakdown of crystal surface we used high numerical aperture objectives for focusing of light. It was shown, that advanced heat accumulation regime of femtosecond inscription is inapplicable for writing of near-surface waveguides, and near the surface waveguides should be written in non-thermal regime in contrast to widespread femtosecond writing at depths of tens micrometers. Inscribed waveguides were examined for optical losses and polarization properties. It was experimentally shown, that femtosecond written near surface waveguides have such advantages over widely used proton exchanged and Ti-diffusion waveguides as lower optical losses (down to 0.3 dB/cm) and maintaining of all polarization states of propagation light, which is crucial for development of electro-optical modulators for broadband and ultrashort laser emission. Novelty of the results consists in technique of femtosecond inscription of waveguides at record low depths under the surface of crystals. As compared to previous investigations in the field (structures at depths near 50 um with buried electrodes), the obtained waveguides could be used with simple closely adjacent on-surface electrodes.
Mikhail A. Bukharin, Nikolay N. Skryabin, Dmitriy V. Khudyakov, and Sergey K. Vartapetov, "Femtosecond writing of near-surface waveguides in lithium niobate for low-loss electro-optical modulators of broadband emission," Proc. SPIE 9891, Silicon Photonics and Photonic Integrated Circuits V, 989102 (Presented at SPIE Photonics Europe: April 03, 2016; Published: 13 May 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2227874.
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