Several 3D multilayer silicon photonics platforms have been proposed to provide densely integrated structures for complex integrated circuits. Amongst these platforms, great interest has been given to the inclusion of silicon nitride layers to achieve low propagation losses due to their capacity of providing tight optical confinement with low scattering losses in a wide spectral range. However, none of the proposed platforms have demonstrated the integration of active devices. The problem is that typically low loss silicon nitride layers have been fabricated with LPCVD which involves high processing temperatures (<1000 ºC) that affect metallisation and doping processes that are sensitive to temperatures above 400ºC. As a result, we have investigated ammonia-free PECVD and HWCVD processes to obtain high quality silicon nitride films with reduced hydrogen content at low temperatures. Several deposition recipes were defined through a design of experiments methodology in which different combinations of deposition parameters were tested to optimise the quality and the losses of the deposited layers. The physical, chemical and optical properties of the deposited materials were characterised using different techniques including ellipsometry, SEM, FTIR, AFM and the waveguide loss cut-back method. Silicon nitride layers with hydrogen content between 10-20%, losses below 10dB/cm and high material quality were obtained with the ammonia-free recipe. Similarly, it was demonstrated that HWCVD has the potential to fabricate waveguides with low losses due to its capacity of yielding hydrogen contents <10% and roughness <1.5nm.
T. Domínguez Bucio, A. Tarazona, A. Z. Khokhar, G. Z. Mashanovich, and F. Y. Gardes, "Low temperature silicon nitride waveguides for multilayer platforms," Proc. SPIE 9891, Silicon Photonics and Photonic Integrated Circuits V, 98911T (Presented at SPIE Photonics Europe: April 07, 2016; Published: 13 May 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2227590.
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