Gigahertz Modulation of a Photonic Crystal Cavity

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Ali, Aaron
saw , optical , acoustic , photonic
Photonic crystal (PtC) cavities are an increasingly important way to create all optical methods to control optical data. Not only must the data be controlled, but interfacing it with high frequency electrical signals is particularly interesting especially if this occurs in the 1.55µm telecom band. We present an experiment that uses Rayleigh surface acoustic waves (SAWs) to modulate the frequency of the guided mode of an L3-cavity PtC created on a silicon slab. This work has the potential to interface optical and electrical signals via a mechanical strain wave operating at gigahertz frequencies. Defects are carefully designed into a triangular lattice PtC to realize a waveguide coupled optical cavity. The cavity can be experimentally accessed through grating couplers excited by polarized light at 10 degrees incidence from normal. The optical components are fabricated on a silicon-on-insulator platform, with light confined to the silicon slab region. Through transmission experiments, the L3 cavity was found to have a narrow resonance characterized by a Lorentzian distribution. A quality factor of 165 centered at 6255 1/cm (1.599µm) was measured. Aluminum interdigitated transducers (IDTs) were fabricated through a lithography liftoff process. Their ability to create SAWs requires a piezoelectric medium. As silicon does not have this property, growth of a thin ZnO film was required. The transducers were measured using a network analyzer and were found to produce Rayleigh SAWs at a frequency of 179MHz and a wavelength of 24µm. The acoustic energy traveled 70µm to the target optical device. The L3 cavity has dimensions of around 4µm a side - less than 1/2 a SAW wavelength. Modulation of the L3 PtC resonant frequency was monitored through a repeat of the transmission experiment but with RF excitation of the IDTs at the SAW frequency. A broadening of the transmission spectrum was expected. Unfortunately no change in the fitting parameters could be measured. An HF etch was used to undercut the L3 PtC such that a silicon slab suspended in air could be realized. Simulations had been conducted showing an order of magnitude increase in the quality factor was possible. Broken wirebonds on the transducers created unintended etch channels rendering the SAW non-operational.
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