Optical Amplifier and Waveguide


Optical Amplifier and Waveguide Application (Chris)


The optical communications research endeavor is focused on developing novel material systems for integrated optic and photonic applications relating to signal routing and amplification.  We are currently exploring a zinc silicate material system that not only enables fabrication of passive components on a silicon platform, it also has the ability to be used for active optical components such as electroluminescent devices and optical amplifiers.

 Figure 1 shows the unique ability of zinc silicate germinate doped with manganese (ZSG:Mn) to exhibit electroluminescence either in  the green or the red by changing the annealing conditions.  Figure 2 shows an optical waveguide fabricated from the same material.

Figure 1: EL spectrum of ZSG:Mn with ELD’s inset.


 Figure 2:  ZSG:Mn optical waveguide.

More recently we have focused on zinc silicate germinate doped with Er (ZSG:Er).  With this material we have been able to produce waveguide optical amplifiers for use in the 1.5 mm regime.  Figure 3 shows a 3dB optical splitter fabricated in this amplifying media.  Note the green upconversion from the erbium dopant.


Figure 3:  3dB splitter fabricated in amplifying media.

 Our immediate goal is to increase the gain capability of this material system to compete with the state of the art in waveguide optical amplifiers.


Sol-gel Process and Optical Application (Bob H.)

Sol gel processing was undertaken at the Nanolab to investigate the use of this new technology to fabricate optical materials for various purposes such as optical memory storage, light emitting devices, and waveguide amplifiers useful in the 1.5 mm wavelength range.  Below is a picture of an erbium doped aluminosilicate waveguide amplifier.  The green light emission is characteristic of Er3+ upconversion when excited with 980 nm laser light.

Sol gel technology utilizes very pure chemicals, which can form organic and inorganic polymer and glass materials at low temperature.  This process was used to form the waveguide amplifiers to operate in the telecom wavelength window of 1.5 mm.