OSA's Digital Library

Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 15, Iss. 11 — May. 28, 2007
  • pp: 7058–7065
« Show journal navigation

Polarization insensitive low-loss coupling technique between SOI waveguides and high mode field diameter single-mode fibers

J. V. Galán, P. Sanchis, G. Sánchez, and J. Martí  »View Author Affiliations


Optics Express, Vol. 15, Issue 11, pp. 7058-7065 (2007)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OE.15.007058


View Full Text Article

Acrobat PDF (182 KB)





Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


   


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools

Share
Citations

Abstract

A polarization insensitive technique for highly efficient coupling between SOI waveguides and high mode field diameter single-mode fibers is reported. The proposed coupling structure is based on an inverted taper structure coupled to a fiber-adapted waveguide. The fiber-adapted waveguide is made by using the SiO2 layer under the Si waveguiding layer of the SOI wafer thus avoiding the use of extra materials such as polymers. The proposed coupling structure is aimed for being integrated with V-groove auto-alignment techniques. Coupling losses of 3.5dB and 3.7dB to 8μm mode field diameter single-mode fibers have been estimated by means of 3D-BPM simulations for TE and TM polarizations respectively and a 1550nm input signal wavelength.

© 2007 Optical Society of America

1. Introduction

Efficient coupling between standard single-mode fibers and single-mode waveguides is a key point in silicon photonics. An optical integrated circuit is useless without an interface to the outside world. The small size of single-mode silicon-on-insulator (SOI) waveguides (typically 500nm width and around 200nm thickness) compared with the high 8μm diameter of a single-mode fiber makes coupling inefficient. A direct end-fire coupling between a SOI single-mode waveguide and a standard single-mode optical fiber means much more than 20dB of coupling losses for TE polarization and 1550nm input signal wavelength. Three-dimensional (3D) tapers have been reported to achieve 3D spot-size conversion between the spot-sizes of the waveguide and the fiber [1

1. A. Sure, T. Dillon, J. Murakowski, C. Lin, D. Pustai, and D. W. Prather, “Fabrication and characterization of three-dimensional silicon tapers,” Opt. Express 26, 3555–3561 (2003). [CrossRef]

]. More complex structures such as two different tapers formed at different levels have also been proposed [2

2. D. Dai, S. He, and H. K. Tsang, “Bilevel mode converter between a silicon nanowire waveguide and a larger waveguide,” IEEE J. Lightwave Technol. 242418–2433 (2006).

]. However, the complexity of the fabrication significantly increases in 3D approaches and the coupling length is more than 1mm. A more elegant and compact solution that is compatible with planar processing techniques is the use of two-dimensional (2D) inverted tapers to achieve 3D spot-size conversion [3–9

3. T. Shoji, T. Tsuchizawa, T. Watanabe, K. Yamada, and H. Morita, “Low loss mode size converter from 0.3μm square Si wire waveguides to singlemode fibres,” Electron. Lett. 38, 1669–1670 (2002). [CrossRef]

]. In this case, the width of the taper is gradually decreased thus delocalizing the mode profile out of the waveguide core.

The tip of the inverted taper can be directly attached to the optical fiber [4

4. L. Vivien, S. Laval, E. Cassan, X. Le Roux, and D. Pascal, “2-D Taper for low-loss coupling between polarization-insensitive microwaveguides and single-mode optical fibers,” IEEE J. Lightwave Technol. 21, 1–5 (2003). [CrossRef]

,5

5. V. R. Almeida, R. R. Panepucci, and M. Lipson, “Nanotaper for compact mode conversion,” Opt. Lett. 28, 1302–1304 (2003) [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. However, in this case, very precise control on the chip facets position is required and the coupling structure is polarization sensitive. Therefore, the mode out of the inverted taper is usually coupled into another fiber-adapted waveguide. This fiber-adapted waveguide is made of low index contrast polymer materials and it is placed on top of the inverted taper [6–9

6. S. J. McNab, N. Moll, and Y. A. Vlasov, “Ultra-low loss photonic integrated circuit with membrane-type photonic crystal waveguides,” Opt. Express 11, 2927–2939 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. However, the inverted taper and the low-index contrast waveguide are optimized for low coupling losses into small core optical fibers with typically 3-4 μm mode field diameters. In this paper, a new coupling structure based on the inverted taper is proposed for low coupling losses between SOI waveguides and high mode field diameter single-mode fibers. The proposed approach is polarization insensitive and it takes advantage of the SiO2 layer under the Si waveguiding layer of the SOI wafer to obtain the fiber-adapted low-index contrast waveguide. Furthermore, the structure is designed by means of simulations with the aim of future integration with V-groove structures thus allowing passive alignment and easier packaging [10

10. S. Park, J. M Lee, and S. C. Ko, “Fabrication method for passive alignment in polymer PLCs with Ugrooves,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 17, 1444–1446 (2005). [CrossRef]

].

Fig. 1. (a) Proposed inverted taper-based structure and its main design parameters. (b) Detail of the integration of the proposed structure with the V-groove auto-alignment structure.

2. Proposed structure

The proposed inverted taper-based structure is shown in Fig. 1(a). The single-mode SOI waveguide is tapered down by the inverted taper. SOI wafers of 205nm/3μm Si/SiO2 layer thicknesses have been taken into account, so the Si waveguide width has to be around 500nm to achieve single-mode propagation. The main inverted taper design parameters are the inverted taper length (Lt) and the inverted taper tip width (Wt) both illustrated in Fig. 1(a). If the substrate of the SOI wafer is removed, it is possible to use the SiO2 layer as the fiberadapted waveguide, as shown in Fig. 1(a). Due to the SiO2 SOI wafer layer thickness, the height of the SiO2 waveguide is fixed to 3μm. The objective is to find the optimum SiO2 waveguide width and the optimum inverted taper parameters to achieve the lowest coupling losses between the proposed structure and the single-mode fiber. Furthermore, the design is carried out to obtain a polarization insensitive structure. The most important application of the proposed structure is its direct integration with V-groove auto-alignment structures as illustrated in Fig. 1(b). A step by step analysis of the proposed inverted taper-based structure is presented on the following sections. The analysis starts with the SiO2 waveguide design to achieve the lowest coupling losses to high mode field diameter single-mode fibers. Then, the optimum inverted taper tip width and length are designed.

Fig. 2. Coupling losses between the SiO2 waveguide and the optical fiber as a function of the fiber mode field diameter for different waveguide widths, λ=1550nm and both TE and TM polarizations.

3. SiO2 waveguide design

The objective is to find the optimum SiO2 waveguide width to get the lowest coupling losses between the SiO2 waveguide and the fiber. Coupling losses have been theoretically calculated by means of the following overlap integral [11

11. G. T. Reed and A. P. Knights, Silicon Photonics, an introduction (John Wiley & Sons, 2004). [CrossRef]

]:

LC=20log10[F1F2dxdyF12dxdyF22dxdy]
(1)

where F 1 and F 2 are the fiber and SiO2 waveguide fundamental mode profiles, respectively. The fundamental mode profile of the SiO2 waveguide has been obtained by means of a 3D mode solver based on the Beam Propagation Method (BPM). The fundamental mode profile of the fiber has been approximated by a Gaussian beam. Figure 2 shows the estimated coupling losses between the SiO2 waveguide and the fiber as a function of the fiber mode field diameter (MFD) for different SiO2 waveguide widths and a 1550nm input signal wavelength. A polarization insensitive behaviour of the coupling efficiency in the SiO2 waveguide-fiber interface is achieved so results shown in Fig. 2 are valid for both TE and TM polarizations. As it is shown in Fig. 2, the estimated coupling losses for an 8μm wide SiO2 waveguide and a single-mode fiber with MFD=8μm are around 3dB. If the SiO2 waveguide gets wider (e.g. 10μm width), the estimated coupling losses are only 0.3dB less than for the 8μm wide SiO2 waveguide. Therefore, in order to minimize as much as possible the SiO2 waveguide dimensions, the 8μm wide SiO2 waveguide case has been chosen.

4. Inverted taper design

4.1 Inverted taper tip width design

Fig. 3. (a) Detail of the interface between the fiber-adapted SiO2 waveguide with and without the inverted taper on top. (b) Procedure to evaluate the coupling losses of the interface depicted in Fig. 3(a).
Fig. 4. Coupling losses between the SiO2 waveguide with and without the inverted taper on top as a function of the inverted taper tip width, λ=1550nm and for both TE and TM polarizations.

Figure 4 shows the coupling losses between the SiO2 waveguide with and without the inverted taper on top as a function of the tip width for TE and TM polarizations and for a 1550nm input signal wavelength. As it can be seen in Fig. 4, almost negligible coupling losses for both TE and TM polarizations are achieved when the inverted taper tip width is lower than 200nm. On the other hand, coupling losses also do not significantly change as the inverted taper tip width is higher than 400 nm. This occurs because the mode is mainly located in the high index contrast silicon waveguide and therefore only a small part of the mode profile overlaps with the mode profile of the SiO2 waveguide. In our case, inverted taper tip widths lower than 200nm are desirable to achieve a polarization insensitive coupling structure, as the SiO2 waveguide-optical fiber interface is also polarization insensitive. However, wider taper tips are more suitable to reduce the complexity of the fabrication. Therefore, the optimum value will be 200 nm.

4.2 Inverted taper length design

Fig. 5. Field distribution in a 400μm long inverted taper obtained by means of a 3D-BPM simulation.

Figure 6 shows the coupling losses as a function of the inverted taper length for both TE and TM polarizations and a 1550nm input signal wavelength. Looking at Fig. 6, it can be seen that coupling losses decrease as the inverted taper gets longer due to the lower mode mismatching. Furthermore, it is interesting to notice that this improvement is similar for both TE and TM polarization. On the other hand, it can be seen that the highest coupling losses for the case of a zero length taper are in agreement with the results shown in Fig. 4 for the case of 500nm width. An inverted taper lengh of 400μm has been chosen as the most optimum one taking into account the trade off between minimum coupling losses and short lengths for both polarizations. For this length value, 0.5dB coupling losses are achieved for TE polarization while 0.7dB coupling losses are achieved for TM polarization.

It is important to remind that as the fiber-SiO2 waveguide interface has not been considered in the 3D BPM simulation on Fig. 5 the total coupling losses of the structure will be the sum of the coupling losses in the fiber-SiO2 waveguide interface, which were estimated in 3dB for both polarizations, and the 0.5dB and 0.7dB coupling losses estimated in Fig. 6 for a 400μm long inverted taper and TE and TM polarizations respectively. Therefore, the total coupling losses for the considered wavelength of 1550 nm will be 3.5dB for TE polarization and 3.7dB for TM polarization.

Fig. 6. Coupling losses as a function of the inverted taper length for both TE and TM polarizations and a 1550nm input signal wavelength.

The influence on the coupling performance when a part of the 400μm long inverted taper is located on top of the SiO2/Si layers instead on being completely located on top of the SiO2 waveguide has also been investigated in order to reduce the length of the SiO2 waveguide that is hanging on air and thus increasing the mechanical robustness of the structure. Figure 7 shows a description of the simulated structure where the goal is to find the minimum value of the d parameter without degrading coupling losses.

Fig. 7. Top (a) and side (b) views of the simulated structure to analyze the influence on the coupling performance of the position of the inverted taper (d parameter) on the SiO2 waveguide.
Fig. 8. Coupling losses as a function of the d parameter depicted in Fig. 7 for both TE and TM polarizations.

Coupling losses as a function of the d parameter for both TE and TM polarizations are shown in Fig. 8. It can be seen that coupling losses increase for high d values due to leakage losses into the silicon substrate. However, coupling losses are almost flat for d values smaller than 325μm indicating that light quickly couples from the SiO2 waveguide to the higher index of the inverted taper, as it can also be observed in Fig. 5. Therefore, it can be concluded that only the first 75μm of the inverted taper length must be necessary located on top of the SiO2 waveguide.

5. Spectral response

The spectral response of the proposed coupling structure has also been obtained taking into account the design parameters calculated previously at a 1550 nm input signal wavelength. Figure 9 shows the spectral response of the coupling losses of a 500nm wide single-mode SOI waveguide coupled to an 8μm MFD single-mode fiber by means of the proposed coupling structure. It can be seen an almost flat spectral response in the considered wavelengths range for both TE and TM polarizations. This flat spectral response is achieved because the coupling structure does not rely on any resonant effect. Finally, it is important to point out that coupling losses could be reduced by using fibers with a lower MFD, as it can be seen in Fig. 2.

Fig. 9. Spectral response of the coupling losses between a 500nm wide single-mode SOI waveguide and a 8μm MFD single-mode fiber by means of the proposed coupling structure.

6. Conclusion

In this paper, we report a polarization insensitive fiber-to-SOI waveguide efficient coupling technique using an inverted taper-based structure. The SiO2 layer of the SOI wafer is considered to make the fiber-adapted waveguide thus avoiding the use of extra materials such as polymers. The proposed coupling structure is aimed for being integrated with V-groove auto-alignment techniques. Parameters have been theoretically designed to minimize the coupling losses to a single-mode fiber with MFD=8μm. Coupling losses of 3.5dB and 3.7dB for both TE and TM polarizations respectively and a 1550 nm input signal wavelength have been obtained using a 400μm long inverted taper. Lower coupling losses may be achieved by using fibers with a lower MFD. Furthermore, a flat spectral response is achieved.

Acknowledgements

Financial support by EC under project 017158-PHOLOGIC and Spanish MEC and EUFEDER under contract TEC2005-07830 SILPHONICS is acknowledged. Authors also acknowledge financial support by Generalitat Valencia.

References and links

1.

A. Sure, T. Dillon, J. Murakowski, C. Lin, D. Pustai, and D. W. Prather, “Fabrication and characterization of three-dimensional silicon tapers,” Opt. Express 26, 3555–3561 (2003). [CrossRef]

2.

D. Dai, S. He, and H. K. Tsang, “Bilevel mode converter between a silicon nanowire waveguide and a larger waveguide,” IEEE J. Lightwave Technol. 242418–2433 (2006).

3.

T. Shoji, T. Tsuchizawa, T. Watanabe, K. Yamada, and H. Morita, “Low loss mode size converter from 0.3μm square Si wire waveguides to singlemode fibres,” Electron. Lett. 38, 1669–1670 (2002). [CrossRef]

4.

L. Vivien, S. Laval, E. Cassan, X. Le Roux, and D. Pascal, “2-D Taper for low-loss coupling between polarization-insensitive microwaveguides and single-mode optical fibers,” IEEE J. Lightwave Technol. 21, 1–5 (2003). [CrossRef]

5.

V. R. Almeida, R. R. Panepucci, and M. Lipson, “Nanotaper for compact mode conversion,” Opt. Lett. 28, 1302–1304 (2003) [CrossRef] [PubMed]

6.

S. J. McNab, N. Moll, and Y. A. Vlasov, “Ultra-low loss photonic integrated circuit with membrane-type photonic crystal waveguides,” Opt. Express 11, 2927–2939 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

7.

K. Yamada, T. Tsuchizawa, T. Watanabe, J. Takahashi, E. Tamechika, M. Takahashi, S. Uchiyama, H. Fukuda, T. Shoji, S. Itabashi, and H. Morita, “Microphotonics devices based on silicon wire waveguiding system,” IEICE Trans. Electron E87-C, 351–358 (2004).

8.

K. K. Lee, D. R. Lim, D. Pan, C. Hoepfner, W.Y. Oh, K. Wada, L. C. Kimerling, K. P. Yap, and M. T. Doan, “Mode transformer for miniaturized optical circuits,” Opt. Lett. 30, 498–500 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

9.

G. Roelkens, P. Dumon, W. Bogaerts, D. Van Thourhout, and R. Baets, “Efficient silicon-on-insulator fiber coupler fabricated using 248nm deep UV lithography,” Photon. Technol. Lett. 17, 2613–2615 (2005). [CrossRef]

10.

S. Park, J. M Lee, and S. C. Ko, “Fabrication method for passive alignment in polymer PLCs with Ugrooves,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 17, 1444–1446 (2005). [CrossRef]

11.

G. T. Reed and A. P. Knights, Silicon Photonics, an introduction (John Wiley & Sons, 2004). [CrossRef]

OCIS Codes
(060.1810) Fiber optics and optical communications : Buffers, couplers, routers, switches, and multiplexers
(130.2790) Integrated optics : Guided waves
(130.3120) Integrated optics : Integrated optics devices
(250.5300) Optoelectronics : Photonic integrated circuits

ToC Category:
Fiber Optics and Optical Communications

History
Original Manuscript: April 5, 2007
Revised Manuscript: May 14, 2007
Manuscript Accepted: May 15, 2007
Published: May 24, 2007

Citation
J. V. Galán, P. Sanchis, G. Sánchez, and J. Martí, "Polarization insensitive low-loss coupling technique between SOI waveguides and high mode field diameter single-mode fibers," Opt. Express 15, 7058-7065 (2007)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-15-11-7058


Sort:  Author  |  Year  |  Journal  |  Reset  

References

  1. A. Sure, T. Dillon, J. Murakowski, C. Lin, D. Pustai and D. W. Prather, "Fabrication and characterization of three-dimensional silicon tapers," Opt. Express 26, 3555-3561 (2003). [CrossRef]
  2. D. Dai, S. He, and H. K. Tsang, "Bilevel mode converter between a silicon nanowire waveguide and a larger waveguide," IEEE J. Lightwave Technol. 242418-2433 (2006).
  3. T. Shoji, T. Tsuchizawa, T. Watanabe, K. Yamada and H. Morita, "Low loss mode size converter from 0.3?m square Si wire waveguides to singlemode fibres," Electron. Lett. 38, 1669-1670 (2002). [CrossRef]
  4. L. Vivien, S. Laval, E. Cassan, X. Le Roux, and D. Pascal, "2-D Taper for low-loss coupling between polarization-insensitive microwaveguides and single-mode optical fibers," IEEE J. Lightwave Technol. 21, 1-5 (2003). [CrossRef]
  5. V. R. Almeida, R. R. Panepucci, and M. Lipson, "Nanotaper for compact mode conversion," Opt. Lett. 28, 1302-1304 (2003) [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  6. S. J. McNab, N. Moll, and Y. A. Vlasov, "Ultra-low loss photonic integrated circuit with membrane-type photonic crystal waveguides," Opt. Express 11, 2927-2939 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  7. K. Yamada, T. Tsuchizawa, T. Watanabe, J. Takahashi, E. Tamechika, M. Takahashi, S. Uchiyama, H. Fukuda, T. Shoji, S. Itabashi and H. Morita, "Microphotonics devices based on silicon wire waveguiding system," IEICE Trans. Electron E 87-C, 351-358 (2004).
  8. K. K. Lee, D. R. Lim, D. Pan, C. Hoepfner, W.Y. Oh, K. Wada, L. C. Kimerling, K. P. Yap, and M. T. Doan, "Mode transformer for miniaturized optical circuits," Opt. Lett. 30, 498-500 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  9. G. Roelkens, P. Dumon, W. Bogaerts, D. Van Thourhout, and R. Baets, "Efficient silicon-on-insulator fiber coupler fabricated using 248nm deep UV lithography," Photon. Technol. Lett.  17, 2613-2615 (2005) . [CrossRef]
  10. S. Park, J. M Lee, and S. C. Ko, "Fabrication method for passive alignment in polymer PLCs with U-grooves," IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 17, 1444-1446 (2005). [CrossRef]
  11. G. T. Reed, A. P. Knights, Silicon Photonics, an introduction (John Wiley & Sons, 2004). [CrossRef]

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.


« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited