Efficient coupling of light from a chip into an optical fiber is a major issue in silicon photonics, as the dimensions of high-index-contrast photonic integrated waveguides are much smaller than conventional fiber diameters. Surface grating couplers address the coupling problem by radiating the optical power from a waveguide through the surface of the chip to the optical fiber, or vice versa. However, since the grating radiation angle substantially varies with the wavelength, conventional surface grating couplers cannot offer high coupling efficiency and broad bandwidth simultaneously. To overcome this limitation, for the near-infrared band we have recently proposed SOI-based zero-order grating couplers, which, making use of a subwavelength-engineered waveguide and a high-index prism, suppress the explicit dependence between the radiation angle and the wavelength, achieving a 1-dB bandwidth of 126 nm at λ = 1.55 μm. However, in the near-infrared, the bandwidth enhancement of zero-order grating couplers is limited by the effective index wavelength dispersion of the grating. In the mid-infrared spectral region, the waveguide dispersion is lower, alleviating the bandwidth limitation. Here we demonstrate numerically our zero-order grating coupler concept in the mid-infrared at λ = 3.8 μm. Several couplers for the silicon-on-insulator and the germanium-on-silicon nitride platforms are designed and compared, with subdecibel coupling efficiencies and 1-dB bandwidths up to ~680 nm.
Waveguides structured at the subwavelength scale frustrate diffraction and behave as optical metamaterials with controllable refractive index. These structures have found widespread applications in silicon photonics, ranging from sub-decibel efficiency fibre-chip couplers to spectrometers and polarization rotators. Here, we briey describe the design foundations for sub-wavelength waveguide devices, both in terms of analytic effective medium approximations, as well as through rigorous Floch-Bloquet mode simulation. We then focus on two novel structures that exemplify the use of subwavelength waveguides: mid-infrared waveguides and ultra-broadband beamsplitters.
The mid-infrared is attracting increasing attention since many molecules, including potentially hazardous gases such as methane and carbon dioxide, exhibit very specific absorption spectra in this wavelength region. Integrated silicon photonics circuits are envisioned to enable compact and low-cost measurement solutions for these molecules. Multimode interference couplers (MMIs) are basic building blocks for photonic circuits and a broad operational bandwidth is key if flexible operation is to be achieved, e.g. to detect different gases. Here we overcome the bandwidth limitations found in classical MMIs by segmenting the multimode region at a sub-wavelength pitch to engineer its refractive index and dispersion. We achieve less than 0:5 dB imbalance and excess loss in the complete 3 ̶ 4 µm wavelength range. The sub-wavelength MMI not only exhibits nearly threefold improvement in bandwidth, but is also about three times shorter than the conventional device.