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Wavelength-Scale Confinement of Light and Its Applications in On-Chip Photonic Devices


Huang, Jingqing (2012) Wavelength-Scale Confinement of Light and Its Applications in On-Chip Photonic Devices. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/6F0A-TD74.


We present design and experimental work toward building room temperature, continuous-wave (CW) lasers with a cavity that confines light to a volume of ≤ (λ/n)3. We begin with the mechanisms of strong optical confinement using dispersive metals and photonic crystals. Finite-difference time-domain methods (FDTD) are used to simulate the behavior of electromagnetic fields in the cavity; fast Fourier transform from FDTD-generated near-field data calculates the far-field radiation pattern from the microcavity laser.

We then present our investigations into designs where metals are incorporated into microdisk and photonic crystal optical cavities to curb or redirect radiation loss. The significant effects of boundary conditions and substrate feedback on far-field radiation directionality are studied. We evaluate the threshold gain required to achieve room temperature lasing in these metallo-dielectric cavities.

While studying the confinement mechanism of photonic crystals on metal substrate, it became clear that room temperature lasing can be achieved in optically-thick photonic crystal cavities, where the thicker semiconductor layer would give us more freedom in designing the vertical p-i-n doping profile within, for a less resistive and leaky electrical path for current injection operation. We fabricate and demonstrate single-mode room temperature lasing by optical pumping in an optically- thick single-defect cavity.

We move on to present our design and characterization of coupled-cavity photonic crystal lasers operating with CW, high output power, and directional emission. Single-mode stable emission with output power on the order of 10 μW and linear polarization was achieved. Moreover, we switched from the commonly used InGaAsP quantum well material to the lesser-known InAsP quantum wells in InP cladding, and found that the large band-edge offset between InAsP and InP made a world of difference in achieving high power operation despite the large thermal resistance in the device.

For a microcavity laser with directional radiation, Purcell-enhanced spontaneous emission, and diminished effects due to feedback from surrounding structures such as the substrate, nanobeam photonic crystal lasers are analyzed, fabricated, and characterized. Despite thermal resistance an order of magnitude higher than their 2D counterparts, quasi-CW operation with a soft threshold turn-on was achieved.

Much work was done to optimize fabrication techniques in order to realize the optical cavity designs with little fabrication error. We detail the high-contrast hydrogen silsesquioxane (HSQ) electron-beam lithography and deep vertical dry etch procedures especially developed for this work.

Lastly, related projects on nonlinear silicon photonic devices are presented. Synthetic nonlinear polymer is integrated on to the silicon photonic platform to achieve low half-wave voltage electro-optic modulation. Causes and magnitude of the nonlinear loss particular to silicon waveguides with sub-μm2 cross-section are evaluated.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:photonics, laser, microcavity, photonic crystal, nonlinear optics, III-V quantum wells
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Electrical Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Scherer, Axel
Thesis Committee:
  • Scherer, Axel (chair)
  • Painter, Oskar J.
  • Atwater, Harry Albert
  • Yariv, Amnon
  • Yang, Changhuei
Defense Date:13 March 2012
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05062012-225422868
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7008
Deposited By: Jingqing Huang
Deposited On:14 May 2012 22:09
Last Modified:01 Nov 2023 20:52

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