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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 18, Iss. 8 — Apr. 12, 2010
  • pp: 8528–8539
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Rigorous modal analysis of silicon strip nanoscale waveguides

D. M. H. Leung, N. Kejalakshmy, B. M. A. Rahman, and K. T. V. Grattan  »View Author Affiliations


Optics Express, Vol. 18, Issue 8, pp. 8528-8539 (2010)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OE.18.008528


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Abstract

A full-vectorial H-field Finite Element Method has been used for the rigorous modal analysis of silicon strip waveguides. The spatial variation of the full-vectorial H and E-fields are also discussed in details and further, the Poynting vector is also presented. The modal area, hybridness, single mode operation and birefringence are also described for such silicon strip waveguides.

© 2010 OSA

1. Introduction

2. Theory

3. Results

3.1 Waveguide structure

The structure considered in the rigorous investigation carried out is a typical silicon strip optical waveguide or Si photonic wire waveguide. This particular type of waveguide consists in general of a silicon (Si) core with small rectangular cross-section, surrounded by either silica (SiO2) or air. This waveguide can be fabricated by using a SOI (Silicon-On-Insulator) wafer on a Si substrate. A resist mask can be used on the surface of the Si layer and the Si waveguide core may be formed by etching down to the SiO2 buffer layer by use of an Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) dry etcher. The Si core can then either be buried under a thick SiO2 over-layer or surrounded with air. In this study, the thickness of the core waveguide is taken as 260 nm and that of the lower SiO2 buffer layer as 1.50 μm. The refractive index of the rectangular Si core at 1.55 μm wavelength is taken as 3.50. The refractive indices for the SiO2 cladding or air cladding are taken as 1.50 and 1.0, respectively.

3.2 Modal solution

Fig. 1 Variations of the effective index, ne with the waveguide width, W, for different quasi-TE modes.

In the simulations carried out, the waveguide height (H) was kept constant at 260 nm, while the waveguide width (W) was decreased slowly from 3 µm to nano-dimensions to determine the single-mode-to-multimode-transition. In Fig. 1, variations of the effective index (ne) with the width (W) for the fundamental Hy11 and higher order Hy21, Hy31 and Hy41 quasi-TE modes are presented for the SiO2-cladding. The effective index, ne, of a given mode is a normalized propagation parameter, which can be defined by ne = β0/k0, where β0 is the propagation constant of that mode and k0 is the free space wavenumber defined as k0 = ω(ε0μ0)1/2 = 2π/λ. It can be observed that when the width of the waveguide is large in comparison to the height of the structure, the waveguide supports many modes and ne is closer to the refractive index of Si. As W, decreases, ne also decreases and gets closer to the refractive index of SiO2 where the mode reaches its cut-off. It is shown here that the cut-off widths for the Hy41, Hy31, Hy21 and Hy11 modes are 1000 nm, 700 nm, 400 nm and 200 nm, respectively. This simulation data generated suggest that the single-mode operation occurs when the waveguide width lies approximately between 200 nm to 400 nm when the operating wavelength, λ, is 1550 nm with a height of 260 nm. Accuracy of the solution for the Hy11 mode was identified by using Aitken extrapolation [9

9. B. M. A. Rahman and J. B. Davies, “Vector-H finite element solution of GaAs/GaAlAs rib waveguides,” Optoelectronics, IEE Proceedings J 132, 349–353 (1985). [CrossRef]

] to be better than 0.065%, when W = 500 nm.

3.3 Effective area

Mode size area or effective area is an important design parameter for various applications and Fig. 2
Fig. 2 Variations of effective area, Aeff, with the width for different quasi-TE modes.
shows the variation of the effective area (Aeff) with the waveguide width for different quasi-TE modes. Following the second moment of intensity distribution (recommended by ISO Standard 11146), the definition of the effective area [10

10. ISO 11146, Laser and laser related equipment – Test methods for laser beam widths, divergence and beam propagation ratios, International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, Switzerland, 2005.

] can be given by:
Aeff=(Ω|Et|2dxdy)2Ω|Et|4dxdy
(2)
where Et is the transverse electric field vector and the integration is carried out over the whole cross-section of the waveguide, Ω.

It can be observed that as W reduces, Aeff reduces to a minimum value and any further reduction of W, results in the sudden increases of the Aeff as the mode approaches its cut-off. The minimum effective area, Amin, for the Hy11 mode is obtained as 0.0956 μm2 when the value of W = 320 nm, which means that the mode is more confined when the effective area is a minimum. Further rigorous simulations were carried out for the quasi-TE Hy21, Hy31 and Hy41 modes. It was found that the widths for the minimum Aeff values for the Hy21, Hy31 and Hy41 modes are 650 nm, 1000 nm and 1300 nm, respectively. It can be noted that all the Aeff values are very similar when the waveguide width, W, is large but it is only slightly higher for the higher order modes.

3.4 Power confinement

The variations of the power confinement with the width, W, are shown in Fig. 3
Fig. 3 Variations of power confinement factor in silicon, ΓSi, with the waveguide width, W, for different quasi-TE modes.
for the Hy11, Hy21, Hy31 and Hy41 modes. The confinement factor in any particular area normalized to the total power, which is obtained by integrating the Poynting vector, from the H-and E-fields as given below:

Sz=Ω{E*×H  }zdxdy
(3)

It is expected that as the waveguide dimension becomes large, most of the power would be confined in the Si core and that, ΓSi would be close to 1.0. However, it can be noted that, the maximum power confinement in this case is closer to 0.85, because the height of the core was restricted to 260 nm. If the height of the core also becomes larger, then the power confinement in the Si core could approach 1.0. It can be observed here that as the width is reduced, the power confinement in the Si core also reduces. It can be also observed that although, for a wider waveguide, the power confinement for all the four modes shown here are similar, but for a narrower waveguide, the power confinements for the higher order modes are smaller.

The variations of the effective index, ne, the effective area, Aeff and the power confinement in the SiO2 cladding region, ΓSiO2 with the width, W, of the fundamental Hy11 mode are shown together in Fig. 4
Fig. 4 Variations of ne, Aeff and ΓSiO2 with the waveguide width for the Hy11 mode.
, for their comparison. It can be observed that for the single mode operation, in the case of a 260 nm thick waveguide, the value of the width should lie between 200 nm and 400 nm and this may be chosen optimally to be around 320 nm, when the spot-size is also the smallest. In this case, the power confinement in SiO2 is 0.31 and the remaining power will be in the Si core. From this figure, it can be seen that the power confinement range in SiO2 for single mode operation range could be between 0.89 and 0.20 for those width values varying from 200 nm to 400 nm respectively.

3.5 Modal H-field profiles

For the quasi-TE mode, the Hy field component is dominant, and Hx and Hz are the non-dominant components. The dominant Hy field component of the Hy11 mode is shown as an inset in Fig. 5
Fig. 5 Variations of Hy along X-axis and Y-axis for the Hy11 mode
for the waveguide width, W = 300 nm and height, H = 260 nm.

The contour of non-dominant Hz field component of the Hy11 mode is shown as an inset in Fig. 7
Fig. 7 Variations of the Hz field along the Y-axis for the Hy11 mode.
. The maximum magnitude of Hz is found to be 41% of the maximum Hy field and it is significantly higher than the non-dominant of Hx field. The Hz field is zero along the X-axis and it can be observed that the maximum intensity occurs at the two horizontal interfaces between the Si and SiO2. This is because the value of Hz is proportional to the derivative ∂Ex/∂y and therefore the Hz value is shown to peak in the y-direction. It can also be noted that all the three H-field components of the Hy11 mode are continuous across the Si/SiO2 interfaces.

3.6 Hybridness

For the Hy11 mode its hybridness is shown by a solid line in Fig. 8. This is low when the width is large, and as W reduces, the hybridness reaches its maximum, then slowly reduces as the fundamental mode approaches its cut-off region when the Aeff also increases. The maximum hybridness for the fundamental Hy11 mode is found to be 0.19 at W = 320 nm when its effective area was also the smallest. Furthermore, the behavior for the higher order modes (Hy21, Hy31 and Hy41) are shown to be similar to that of the fundamental mode, in which, as the width decreases, the hybridness increases until each higher order modes approaches its cut-off regions.

For the non-dominant Hz field, the hybridness can also be defined as the ratio of Hz/Hy, and this parameter is a function of the width, is shown in Fig. 9
Fig. 9 Variations of Hz hybridness with the width for the Hy11, Hy21, Hy31 and Hy41 modes.
. It can be observed that the hybridness increases as the width increases. It is also shown that the Hz hybridness of the fundamental Hy11 mode is significantly larger than its Hy hybridness. The Hz hybridness of the fundamental and higher order modes follows a similar behavior, in which, they all decreases as width decreases. In this case, with W = 300 nm and H = 260 nm, the Si core waveguide is asymmetric. However, it was observed that in the case of when height varied with a fixed width, the Hz hybridness increases as the waveguide height decreases (but this is not shown in here).

3.7 Modal E-field profiles

Once all the three components of the vector H-field are obtained, Maxwell’s ∇ × H equation is used to calculate the three components of the E-field vector. The fundamental quasi-TE Hy11 mode contains all the three components of the electric field, Ex, Ey and Ez: the Ex field is dominant, and the Ey and Ez field components are non-dominant. Variations of the dominant Ex field along the X and Y-axes for the fundamental Hy11 mode are shown in Fig. 10
Fig. 10 Variations of the Ex field along the X and Y-axes for the Hy11 mode.
for the situation when W = 300 nm and H = 260 nm. The variation of the Ex field along the Y-axis, shown here as a dashed-line, reduces monotonically from the center of the waveguide core and is continuous at the interface between Si/SiO2, as required by the boundary condition. The SiO2 and Si interfaces are shown by two vertical dashed lines. However, the Ex field along the X-axis, shown here as a solid line, reduces more quickly in the core and at the Si/SiO2 interface increases abruptly with a step change in the ratio of (3.5/1.5)2 = 5.44 in the SiO2 region. Therefore the magnitude of the Ex field in the SiO2 region can be significantly higher than that in the core region and this behavior is also shown in the 3D-contour of Ex field, this being shown as an inset in Fig. 10.

The contour of the non-dominant Ey field is illustrated here as an inset in Fig. 11
Fig. 11 Variations of the Ey field along the X and Y-axes for the Hy11 mode.
. From the Ey contour, it can be observed that the E-field is zero along the X and Y-axes. So the variations of Ey inside the core area, but slightly away from the boundary interfaces are shown in Fig. 11. The variations of Ey along the Y-direction at x = 0.1495 µm is shown by a dashed-line and the variations of Ey along the X-direction at y = 0.1296 µm is shown further as a solid line. It can also be seen that the Ey field is small inside the core and increases along the Y-direction. There is a step change noticeable at the SiO2 and Si interface in the Y-direction, with Ey being normal to this interface and seen as discontinuous here. On the other hand, although Ey also peaks at the Si/SiO2 interface along the X-direction, but this was more gradual. It can be noted that while the Ex field was more concentrated in the core region (shown in Fig. 10), the Ey field is predominantly present around the Si/SiO2 interfaces, as can be seen from Fig. 11.

The 3D-contour of non-dominant Ez field component of the Hy11 mode is shown as an inset in Fig. 12
Fig. 12 Variations of the Ez field along the X-axis for the Hy11 mode.
. It can be noted that Ez is zero along the Y-axis. The variation of the Ez field along the X-axis is also shown here. It can be observed that the maximum value of the longitudinal Ez field is 80% of the maximum Ex at the Si/SiO2 interface and then is noted to reduce gradually in the SiO2 region. Such a high longitudinal field can be used in the beam shaping, but this can also influence its polarization properties.

3.8 Poynting vector profiles

From the full vectorial E and H fields, the Poynting Vector (Sz) may be calculated. The contour of the Sz intensity profile is shown as an inset in Fig. 13
Fig. 13 Variations of the Sz intensity along the X and Y-axes for the Hy11 mode.
, where the core of the rectangular Si waveguide is also outlined by dashed lines. The variations of Sz along the X and Y-axes are also shown here. Variations of the Sz along the Y-axis are shown by a dashed-line, which clearly indicates that it reduces monotonically and continuous at the interface and extends more along the Y-axis. However, the variation of the Sz along the X-axis is shown by solid line which reveals a small discontinuity step at the Si/SiO2 interface and it decays more quickly in the Si core. It was observed, (but not shown here), that for a smaller waveguide width, the Sz discontinuity step can be even larger with a significant Sz field extending into the SiO2 cladding in the horizontal X-direction.

Fig. 14 Variations of the ne and Aeff with the width for the Hy11 and Hx11 modes.

The variations of effective indices and effective areas for the fundamental Hy11 and Hx11 modes are shown in Fig. 14. In this study, mostly the effective index for the quasi-TE Hy11 mode is larger than the quasi-TM Hx11 mode: however when the waveguide’s width became smaller, the difference between the effective indices of the Hy11 and Hx11 modes becomes smaller, and they are equal when the waveguide becomes a square nano-scale waveguide with W = H = 260 nm.

In the design of PIC, some silicon guided-wave components may not be surrounded by SiO2 cladding but be in air and the variations of their effective indices and the effective areas with the width are rigorously investigated. Here, the air-clad structure has only got one-fold symmetry, so half of the waveguide is used in the simulation. Figure 15
Fig. 15 Variations of the ne and Aeff with SiO2 or Air cladding for the Hy11 mode
shows the variations of effective indices and effective areas for the fundamental Hy11 mode with the width for both air and SiO2 cladding. It can be observed that when the waveguide is covered with SiO2 both the effective indices and the effective areas are slightly higher than that with the air-cladding.

4. Conclusion

References and links

1.

M. Lipson, “Guiding, Modulating, and Emitting Light on Silicon-Challenges and Opportunities,” J. Lightwave Technol. 23(12), 4222–4238 (2005). [CrossRef]

2.

Y. Vlasov and S. J. McNab, “Losses in single-mode silicon-on-insulator strip waveguides and bends,” Opt. Express 12(8), 1622–1631 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

3.

D. Dai and S. He, “Ultrasmall overlapped arrayed-waveguide grating based on Si nanowire waveguides for dense wavelength division multiplexing,” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 12(6), 1301–1305 (2006). [CrossRef]

4.

L. Liao, D. Samara-Rubio, M. Morse, A. Liu, D. Hodge, D. Rubin, U. D. Keil, and T. Franck, “High speed silicon Mach-Zehnder modulator,” Opt. Express 13(8), 3129–3135 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

5.

O. Boyraz and B. Jalali, “Demonstration of a silicon Raman laser,” Opt. Express 12(21), 5269–5273 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

6.

L. Yin, Q. Lin, and G. P. Agrawal, “Soliton fission and supercontinuum generation in silicon waveguides,” Opt. Lett. 32(4), 391–393 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

7.

B. M. A. Rahman and J. B. Davies, “Finite element solution of integrated optical waveguides,” J. Lightwave Technol. 2(5), 682–688 (1984). [CrossRef]

8.

B. M. A. Rahman and J. B. Davies, “Penalty Function Improvement of Waveguide Solution by Finite Elements,” IEEE Trans. Microw. Theory Tech. 32(8), 922–928 (1984). [CrossRef]

9.

B. M. A. Rahman and J. B. Davies, “Vector-H finite element solution of GaAs/GaAlAs rib waveguides,” Optoelectronics, IEE Proceedings J 132, 349–353 (1985). [CrossRef]

10.

ISO 11146, Laser and laser related equipment – Test methods for laser beam widths, divergence and beam propagation ratios, International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, Switzerland, 2005.

11.

N. Somasiri and B. M. A. Rahman, “Polarization crosstalk in high index contrast planar silica waveguides with slanted sidewalls,” J. Lightwave Technol. 21(1), 54–60 (2003). [CrossRef]

12.

B. M. A. Rahman, S. S. A. Obayya, N. Somasiri, M. Rajarajan, K. T. V. Grattan, and H. A. El-Mikathi, “Design and characterization of compact single-section passive polarization rotator,” J. Lightwave Technol. 19(4), 512–519 (2001). [CrossRef]

OCIS Codes
(000.4430) General : Numerical approximation and analysis
(040.6040) Detectors : Silicon
(230.7370) Optical devices : Waveguides
(350.4238) Other areas of optics : Nanophotonics and photonic crystals

ToC Category:
Physical Optics

History
Original Manuscript: December 24, 2009
Revised Manuscript: March 11, 2010
Manuscript Accepted: March 28, 2010
Published: April 8, 2010

Citation
D. M. H. Leung, N. Kejalakshmy, B. M. A. Rahman, and K. T. V. Grattan, "Rigorous modal analysis of silicon strip nanoscale waveguides," Opt. Express 18, 8528-8539 (2010)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-18-8-8528


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References

  1. M. Lipson, “Guiding, Modulating, and Emitting Light on Silicon-Challenges and Opportunities,” J. Lightwave Technol. 23(12), 4222–4238 (2005). [CrossRef]
  2. Y. Vlasov and S. J. McNab, “Losses in single-mode silicon-on-insulator strip waveguides and bends,” Opt. Express 12(8), 1622–1631 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  3. D. Dai and S. He, “Ultrasmall overlapped arrayed-waveguide grating based on Si nanowire waveguides for dense wavelength division multiplexing,” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 12(6), 1301–1305 (2006). [CrossRef]
  4. L. Liao, D. Samara-Rubio, M. Morse, A. Liu, D. Hodge, D. Rubin, U. D. Keil, and T. Franck, “High speed silicon Mach-Zehnder modulator,” Opt. Express 13(8), 3129–3135 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  5. O. Boyraz and B. Jalali, “Demonstration of a silicon Raman laser,” Opt. Express 12(21), 5269–5273 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  6. L. Yin, Q. Lin, and G. P. Agrawal, “Soliton fission and supercontinuum generation in silicon waveguides,” Opt. Lett. 32(4), 391–393 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  7. B. M. A. Rahman and J. B. Davies, “Finite element solution of integrated optical waveguides,” J. Lightwave Technol. 2(5), 682–688 (1984). [CrossRef]
  8. B. M. A. Rahman and J. B. Davies, “Penalty Function Improvement of Waveguide Solution by Finite Elements,” IEEE Trans. Microw. Theory Tech. 32(8), 922–928 (1984). [CrossRef]
  9. B. M. A. Rahman and J. B. Davies, “Vector-H finite element solution of GaAs/GaAlAs rib waveguides,” Optoelectronics, IEE Proceedings J 132, 349–353 (1985). [CrossRef]
  10. ISO 11146, Laser and laser related equipment – Test methods for laser beam widths, divergence and beam propagation ratios, International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, Switzerland, 2005.
  11. N. Somasiri and B. M. A. Rahman, “Polarization crosstalk in high index contrast planar silica waveguides with slanted sidewalls,” J. Lightwave Technol. 21(1), 54–60 (2003). [CrossRef]
  12. B. M. A. Rahman, S. S. A. Obayya, N. Somasiri, M. Rajarajan, K. T. V. Grattan, and H. A. El-Mikathi, “Design and characterization of compact single-section passive polarization rotator,” J. Lightwave Technol. 19(4), 512–519 (2001). [CrossRef]

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