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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Nonlinear optical response of triple-mode silicon photonic crystal microcavities coupled to single channel input and output waveguides Schelew, Ellen N.


Optical and opto-electronic components play important roles in both classical and quantum information processing technologies. Despite fundamental differences in these technologies, both stand to benefit greatly from moving away from bulky, individually packaged components, toward a scalable platform that supports dense integration of low power consumption devices. Planar photonic circuits, composed of devices etched in a thin slab of high refractive index material, are considered an excellent candidate, and have been used to realize many key components, including low-loss waveguides, light sources, detectors, modulators, and spectral filters. In this dissertation, a novel triple-microcavity structure was designed, externally fabricated, and its linear and nonlinear optical properties were thoroughly characterized. The best of the structures exhibited both high four-wave mixing conversion efficiencies and low threshold optical bistability, which are relevant to frequency conversion and all-optical switching applications. The device consisted of three coupled photonic crystal (PC) microcavities with three nearly equally spaced resonant frequencies near telecommunication wavelengths (λ ~ 1.5 μm), with high quality factors (~ 10⁵, 10⁴ and 10³). The microcavity system was coupled to independent input and output PC waveguides, and the cavity-waveguide coupling strengths were engineered to maximize the coupling of the input waveguide to the central mode, and the output waveguide to the two modes on either side. A novel and sophisticated measurement and analysis protocol was developed to characterize the devices. This involved measuring and modelling the linear and nonlinear transmission characteristics of each of the modes separately with a single tunable laser, as well as the frequency conversion efficiency (via stimulated four-wave mixing) when two tunable lasers pumped two of the modes, and the power generated in the third mode was monitored. Comparisons of the entire set of model and experimental results led to the conclusion that this structure can be used to achieve both low-power-threshold optical switching and high efficiency four-wave-mixing-based frequency conversion. The advantages of this structure over others in the literature are its small footprint, multi-mode functionality and independent input and output channels. The main disadvantage that requires further refinement, has to do with its sensitivity to fabrication imperfections.

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