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Keywords:

  • Integrated optics;
  • multimode-interference (MMI) coupler;
  • silicon-wire;
  • subwavelength grating (SWG);
  • silicon-on-insulator (SOI)

Abstract

Multimode interference couplers (MMIs) are fundamental building blocks in photonic integrated circuits. Here it is experimentally demonstrated, for the first time, a two-fold length reduction in an MMI coupler without any penalty on device performance. The design is based on a slotted 2 × 2 MMI fabricated on a commercial silicon-on-insulator (SOI) substrate. The slot is implemented with a subwavelength grating (SWG) comprising holes fully etched down to the oxide cladding, thereby allowing single etch step fabrication. The device has been designed using an in-house tool based on the Fourier Eigenmode Expansion Method. It has a footprint of only 3.5 μm x 23 μm and it exhibits a measured extinction ratio better than 15 dB within the full C-band (1530 nm‒1570 nm). SWG engineered slots thus offer excellent perspectives for the practical realization of MMIs couplers with substantially reduced footprint yet with outstanding performance.