Creating and Imaging Surface Acoustic Waves on GaAs
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The versatility of surface acoustic wave (SAW) devices stems from the accessibility of the propagation path to modification and detection. This has led to the integration of SAWs in a variety of novel fields, including quantum information processing. The development of technologically competitive devices requires the use of gigahertz frequency SAWs. This thesis develops fabrication processes for high frequency interdigital transducers on gallium arsenide. Optically lithography was used to create linear and stepped transducers, with a minimum feature size of 2 um, that were driven at their fifth harmonic. The highest frequency achieved was 1435 MHz, but the power absorbed was less than 3% and insertion losses were greater than -80 dB. Further improvements in the design and fabrication are required if optically fabricated transducers are to be an alternative to transducers with narrower finger widths. Electron-beam lithography techniques were developed and used to create transducers with finger widths of 500 and 400 nm, with fundamental resonance frequencies of 1387 and 1744 MHz, respectively. The power absorbed was 3 to 6% with insertion losses greater than -45 dB. The performance characteristics can be improved by the removal of residual resist on the surface of the transducer. An indispensable tool for the characterization of one-port transducers is an all optical probe to measure the displacement field of a SAW. This work details the design and construction of a scanning Sagnac interferometer, that is capable of measuring the outward displacement of a surface. The spatial resolution of the interferometer was 2.4 +/- 0.2 um and the displacement sensitivity was determined to be 4 +/- 1 pm. The instrument was used to map the SAW displacement field from a 358 MHz transducer, with results showing the resonant cavity behaviour of the fingers due to Bragg reflections. It also allowed for the direct detection of the SAW amplitude as a function of the driving frequency of the transducer. The results showed good agreement with the related S21 scattering parameter. Lastly, the interferometer was used to image the attenuated propagation of SAWs through a phononic crystal. Results showed good agreement with theoretical simulations.