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Nonlinear Silicon Photonics: Extending Platforms, Control, and Applications

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Abstract

Silicon photonics is a revolutionary technology that enables the control of light inside a silicon chip and holds promise to impact many applications from data center optical interconnects to optical sensing and even quantum optics. The tight confinement of light inside these chips greatly enhances light-matter interactions, making this an ideal platform for nonlinear photonics. Recently, microresonator-based Kerr frequency comb generation has become a prevalent emerging field, enabling the generation of a broadband optical pulse train by inputting a low-power continuous-wave laser into a low-loss chip-scale micro-cavity. These chip-scale combs have a wide variety of applications, including optical clocks, optical spectroscopy, and data communications. Several important applications in biological, chemical and atmospheric areas require combs generated in the visible and mid-infrared wavelength ranges, where there has been far less research and development compared with the near-infrared. Additionally, most platforms widely for combs are passive, limiting the ability to control and optimize the frequency combs. In this dissertation, we set out to address these shortcomings and introduce new tunability as well as wavelength flexibility in order to enable new applications for microresonator frequency combs. The silicon nitride platform for near-infrared combs is generally a passive platform with limited tuning capabilities. We overcome dispersion limitations in the visible range by leveraging the second-order nonlinearity of silicon nitride and demonstrate visible comb lines. We then further investigate the second-order nonlinearity of silicon nitride by measuring the linear electro-optic effect, a potential tuning mechanism. Finally, we introduce thermal tuning onto the silicon nitride platform and demonstrate tuning of the resonance extinction and dispersion of a micro-cavity using a coupled cavity design. We also address the silicon mid-infrared frequency comb platform. The transparency range of the traditional silicon platform prohibits operation beyond 4 um wavelength. Here we show that a silicon photonics platform can be leveraged for broadband mid-infrared operation without introducing complexity in fabrication. Both an air-clad and fully suspended silicon platform can enable broadband, low-loss propagation and comb generation as high as 6 um. We demonstrate a high quality factor resonator near 4 um wavelength, more than an order of magnitude higher than the traditional platform. Finally, we discuss future avenues of research building on the work presented here.

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2017-05-30

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Electrical engineering; Frequency Comb; Microresonator; Mid-Infrared; Nonlinear Optics; Silicon Photonics; Optics

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Lipson, Michal

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Gaeta, Alexander L
Afshari, Ehsan

Degree Discipline

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Degree Name

Ph. D., Electrical and Computer Engineering

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document

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dissertation or thesis

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