Theoretical and computational studies of disorder-induced scattering and nonlinear optical interactions in slow-light photonic crystal waveguides
Photonic crystal waveguides (PCWs) are nano-scale devices offering an exciting platform for exploring and exploiting enhanced linear and nonlinear light-matter interactions, aided in-part by slowing down the group velocity (vg) of on-chip photons. However, with potential applications in telecommunications, bio-sensing and quantum computing, the road to commercialization and practical devices is hindered by our limited understanding of the influence of structural disorder on linear and nonlinear light propagation. This thesis refines and develops state-of-the-art mathematical and numerical models for understanding the important role of disorder-related optical phenomena for PCWs in the linear and optical nonlinear regime. The importance of Bloch modes is demonstrated by computing the power loss caused by disorder-induced scattering for various dispersion engineered PCWs. The theoretical results are found to be in very good agreement with related experiments and it is shown how dispersion engineered designs can minimize the Bloch fields around spatial imperfections resulting in a radical departure from the usual assumed scaling vg^−2 of backscattering losses. We also conduct a systematic investigation of the influence of intra-hole correlation length, a parameter characterizing disorder on backscattering losses and find the loss behaviour to be qualitatively dependent on waveguide design and frequency. We then model disorder-induced resonance shifts to compute the ensemble averaged disordered density of states, accounting for important local field effects which are crucial in achieving good qualitative agreement with experiments. Lastly, motivated by emerging experiments examining enhanced nonlinear interactions, we develop an intuitive time dependent coupled mode formalism to derive propagation equations describing nonlinear pulse propagation in the presence of disorder-induced multiple scattering. The framework establishes a natural length scale for each physical interaction offering considerable insight and we develop and implement a stable implicit finite-difference scheme to solve the propagation equations. Our results also reproduce some hitherto unexplained features in recent experiments and the general theory can be extended to include a wide range of other nonlinear optical effects such as three- photon absorption and four wave mixing.