Recently, rare-earth doped waveguide amplifiers (REDWAs) have drawn significant attention as a promising solution to on-chip amplification of light in silicon photonics and integrated optics by virtue of their high excited state lifetime (up to 10 ms) and broad emission spectrum (up to 200 nm) at infrared wavelengths. In the family of rare-earths, at least erbium, holmium, thulium, neodymium and ytterbium have been demonstrated to be good candidates for amplifier operation at moderate concentrations (< 0.1 %). However, efficient amplifier operation in REDWAs is a very challenging task because high concentration of ions (<0.1%) is required in order to produce reasonable amplification over short device length. Inevitably, high concentration of ions leads to energy-transfer between neighboring ions, which results as decreased gain and increased noise in the amplifier system. It has been shown that these energy-transfer mechanisms in highly-doped gain media are inversely proportional to the sixth power of the distance between the ions. Therefore, novel fabrication techniques with the ability to control the distribution of the rare-earth ions within the gain medium are urgently needed in order to fabricate REDWAs with high efficiency and low noise.
Here, we show that atomic layer deposition (ALD) is an excellent technique to fabricate highly-doped (<1%) RE:Al2O3 gain materials by using its nanoscale engineering ability to delicately control the incorporation of RE ions during the deposition. In our experiment, we fabricated Er:Al2O3 and Tm:Al2O3 thin films with ALD by varying the concentration of RE ions from 1% to 7%. By measuring the photoluminescence response of the fabricated samples, we demonstrate that it is possible to incorporate up to 5% of either Er- or Tm-ions in Al2O3 host before severe quenching occurs. We believe that this technique can be extended to other RE ions as well. Therefore, our results show the exceptionality of ALD as a deposition technique for REDWA technology.
John Roenn, Lasse Karvonen, Alexander Pyymäki-Perros, Nasser Peyghambarian, Harri Lipsanen, Antti Säynätjoki, and Zhipei Sun, "Atomic layer deposition of highly doped Er:Al2O3 and Tm:Al2O3 for silicon-based waveguide amplifiers (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 9891, Silicon Photonics and Photonic Integrated Circuits V, 98910Y (Presented at SPIE Photonics Europe: April 05, 2016; Published: 27 July 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2227640.5042210269001.
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