Compact spectrometer based on a disordered photonic chip

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Light scattering in disordered media has been studied extensively due to its prevalence in natural and artificial systems. In photonics most of the research has focused on understanding and mitigating the effects of scattering, which are often detrimental. For certain applications, however, intentionally introducing disorder can actually improve device performance, as in photovoltaics. Here, we demonstrate a spectrometer based on multiple light scattering in a silicon-on-insulator chip featuring a random structure. The probe signal diffuses through the chip generating wavelength-dependent speckle patterns, which are detected and used to recover the input spectrum after calibration. A spectral resolution of 0.75 nm at a wavelength of 1,500 nm in a 25-μm-radius structure is achieved. Such a compact, high-resolution spectrometer is well suited for lab-on-a-chip spectroscopy applications.

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Figure 1: A chip-based spectrometer based on multiple scattering in a disordered photonic structure.
Figure 2: Spectral calibration and testing of the random spectrometer.
Figure 3: Amorphous and spiral spectrometers with reduced out-of-plane leakage.


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The authors thank A. Dogariu, M. Fink, A. Mosk, A. Yamilov, S. Gigan and S. Popoff for useful discussions. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF; grants nos. DMR-1205307 and ECCS-1128542). Computational resources were provided under the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE; grant no. DMR-100030). Facilities use was supported by YINQE and NSF MRSEC DMR-1119826.

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H.C. and B.R. designed the spectrometers. B.R. fabricated the spectrometers and carried out all the testing and spectrum reconstruction. S.F.L. performed the FDFD simulation of spectrometers and R.S. helped B.R. characterize the spectral correlation of speckle patterns in random media. B.R. and H.C. prepared the manuscript with input from S.F.L.

Correspondence to Hui Cao.

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Redding, B., Liew, S., Sarma, R. et al. Compact spectrometer based on a disordered photonic chip. Nature Photon 7, 746–751 (2013) doi:10.1038/nphoton.2013.190

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