The increasing demand for handheld systems for absorption spectroscopy has triggered the development of microspectrometers at various wavelength ranges. Several MEMS implementations of the light source, interferometer/optical filter, and detector have already been reported in the literature. However, the size of microspectrometers is still limited by the required absorption path length in the sample gas cell. This paper presents a compact MEMS linear-variable optical filter (LVOF) where the resonator cavity of the filter is also used as a sample gas cell to measure the absorption of methane at 3392nm wavelength. The physical resonator cavity length is elongated 62.2-fold, using multiple reflections from highly reflective Bragg mirrors to achieve a sufficiently long effective optical absorption path. Although the LVOF would in principle enable operation as a robust portable microspectrometer, here it is used in a miniaturized NDIR methane sensor for wavelength selection and calibration.
The design of a metamaterial-based absorber for use in a MEMS-based mid-IR microspectrometer is reported. The microspectrometer consists of a LVOF that is aligned with an array of thermopile detectors, which is fabricated on a SiN membrane and coated with the absorber. Special emphasis is put on the CMOS compatible fabrication, which results in an absorber design based on Al disc resonators and an Al background plane that are separated by an SiO2 layer. Wideband operation over the 3-4 μm spectral range is achieved by staggered tuning of four Al disk resonators in one 1.5 x 1.5 μm<sup>2</sup> unit cell, using four different values of the radius of the Al disk between 0.50 μm and 0.63 μm and an SiO<sub>2</sub> layer thickness of 150 nm. Simulations reveal an average absorption of about 95% with a ±4% ripple at normal incidence, which reduces to about 80% absorption at a 20° incidence angle. The influence of material choice and dimensions on a single absorption peak was studied and the magnetic polariton was identified as the underlying mechanism of absorption.
A concept for a highly integrated and miniaturized gas sensor based on infrared absorption, a Fabry-Perot type linear variable optical filter with integrated gas cell, is presented. The sample chamber takes up most of the space in a conventional spectrometer and is the only component that has so far not been miniaturized. In this concept the gas cell is combined with the resonator cavity of the filter. The optical design, fabrication, and characterization results on a MEMSbased realization are reported for a 24-25.5 μm long tapered resonator cavity. Multiple reflections from highly reflective mirrors enable this optical cavity to also act as a gas cell with an equivalent optical absorption path length of 8 mm. Wideband operation of the filter is ensured by fabrication of a tapered mirror. In addition to the functional integration and significant size reduction, the filter contains no moving parts, thus enables the fabrication of a robust microspectrometer
The optical performance of a distributed Bragg reflector (DBR) is typically the determining factor in many optical MEMS devices and is mainly limited by the number of the periods (number of layers) and the refractive index contrast (RIC) of the materials used. The number of suitable available materials is limited and implementing a large number of periods increases the process complexity. Using air as a low-index material improves the RIC by almost 50% as compared with most conventional layer combinations and hence provides a higher optical performance at a given number of layers. This paper presents the design, fabrication, and optical characterization of multiple air-SiO<sub>2</sub> Bragg reflectors with two airgap layers designed for the visible spectrum. Alternate polysilicon deposition and silicon-dioxide growth on the wafers followed by the selective etching of polysilicon layers in a TMAH-based solution results in a layer stack according to the optical design. However, unlike the conventional MEMS processes, fabrication of a blue-band airdielectric DBR demands several sacrificial layers in the range of 100 nm. Therefore, a successful release of the membrane after wet-etching is critical to the successful performance of the device. In this study, several DBRs with two periods have been fabricated using a CO<sub>2</sub> supercritical drying process. The wide-area reflection measurements showed a peak reflectance of 65% and an FWHM of about 100 nm for a DBR centered at 500 nm. DBRs centered on 400 nm gave a much wider spectral response. This paper presents preliminary optical characterization results and discusses the challenges for a reflector design in the blue-visible range.
This paper presents the design, fabrication and characterization of a linear variable optical filter (LVOF) that operates in the infrared (IR) spectral range. An LVOF-based microspectrometer is a tapered-cavity Fabry-Perot optical filter placed on top of a linear array of detectors. The filter transforms the optical spectrum into a lateral intensity profile, which is recorded by the detectors. The IR LVOF has been fabricated in an IC-compatible process flow using a resist reflow and is followed by the transfer etching of this resist pattern into the optical resonator layer. This technique provides the possibility to fabricate a small, robust and high-resolution micro-spectrometer in the IR spectral range directly on a detector chip. In these designs, the LVOF uses thin-film layers of sputtered Si and SiO<sub>2</sub> as the high and low refractive index materials respectively. By tuning the deposition conditions and analyzing the optical properties with a commercial ellipsometer, the refractive index for Si and SiO<sub>2</sub> thin-films was measured and optimized for the intended spectral range. Two LVOF microspectrometers, one operating in the 1.8-2.8 μm, and the other in the 3.0-4.5 μm wavelength range, have been designed and fabricated on a silicon wafer. The filters consist of a Fabry-Perot structure combined with a band-pass filter to block the out-of-band transmission. Finally, the filters were fully characterized with an FTIR spectrometer and the transmission curve widening was investigated. The measured transmittance curves were in agreement with theory. The characterization shows a spectral resolution of 35-60 nm for the short wavelength range LVOF and 70 nm for the long wavelength range LVOF, which can be further improved using signal processing algorithms.