Embedded cavities and waveguides in three-dimensional silicon photonic crystals

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To fulfil the promise that complete-photonic-bandgap materials hold for optoelectronics applications, the incorporation of three-dimensionally engineered defects must be realized. Previous attempts to create and characterize such defects were limited because of fabrication challenges. Here we report the optical and structural characterization of complex submicrometre features of unprecedented quality within silicon inverse opals. High-resolution three-dimensional features are first formed within a silica colloidal crystal by means of two-photon polymerization, followed by a high-index replication step and removal of the opal template to yield embedded defects in three-dimensional silicon photonic crystals. We demonstrate the coupling of bandgap frequencies to resonant modes in planar optical cavities and the first waveguiding of near-infrared light around sharp bends in a complete-photonic-bandgap material.

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Figure 1: Vertical cross-sections of air features embedded within silicon–air inverse opals.
Figure 2: Micrographs of features defined in a PhC.
Figure 3: Overview of the fabrication scheme used to embed air features in a silicon–air inverse opal.
Figure 4: Optical spectra from a planar cavity embedded in a PhC.
Figure 5: Straight vertical waveguides.
Figure 6: Double-bend waveguides embedded in a 3D PBG material.


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This material was based on work supported by US Army Research Office grant DAAD19-03-1-0227, National Science Foundation grant DMR 00-71645 and US Department of Energy, Division of Materials Sciences grant DE-FG02-07ER46471, through the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). This work was carried out in part in the Beckman Institute Microscopy Suite, UIUC, and the Center for Microanalysis of Materials, UIUC, which is partially supported by the US Department of Energy under grants DE-FG02-07ER46453 and DE-FG02-07ER46471. We gratefully thank L.-S. Tan (US Air Force Research Laboratory) for providing the two-photon sensitive dye, and E.C. Nelson, A.D. Stewart and E. Zettergren of our laboratory for providing some of the colloids and colloidal crystals used in this work.

Author information

S.A.R. carried out the TPP, FIB, SEM, confocal and IR microscopy. F.G.S. carried out the ALD, CVD and bandgap calculations. S.A.R. and F.G.S. both performed HF etching, spectroscopy, RIE, and grew colloidal crystals. All authors conceived and designed the project, participated in discussions about the research and wrote the manuscript.

Correspondence to Paul V. Braun.

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Supplementary information: figures S1-S9 and supplementary references (PDF 1118 kb)

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Rinne, S., García-Santamaría, F. & Braun, P. Embedded cavities and waveguides in three-dimensional silicon photonic crystals. Nature Photon 2, 52–56 (2008) doi:10.1038/nphoton.2007.252

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