High–bit rate ultra-compact light routing with mode-selective on-chip nanoantennas

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Science Advances  19 Jul 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 7, e1700007
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700007

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Optical nanoantennas provide a promising pathway toward advanced manipulation of light waves, such as directional scattering, polarization conversion, and fluorescence enhancement. Although these functionalities were mainly studied for nanoantennas in free space or on homogeneous substrates, their integration with optical waveguides offers an important “wired” connection to other functional optical components. Taking advantage of the nanoantenna’s versatility and unrivaled compactness, their imprinting onto optical waveguides would enable a marked enhancement of design freedom and integration density for optical on-chip devices. Several examples of this concept have been demonstrated recently. However, the important question of whether nanoantennas can fulfill functionalities for high-bit rate signal transmission without degradation, which is the core purpose of many integrated optical applications, has not yet been experimentally investigated. We introduce and investigate directional, polarization-selective, and mode-selective on-chip nanoantennas integrated with a silicon rib waveguide. We demonstrate that these nanoantennas can separate optical signals with different polarizations by coupling the different polarizations of light vertically to different waveguide modes propagating into opposite directions. As the central result of this work, we show the suitability of this concept for the control of optical signals with ASK (amplitude-shift keying) NRZ (nonreturn to zero) modulation [10 Gigabit/s (Gb/s)] without significant bit error rate impairments. Our results demonstrate that waveguide-integrated nanoantennas have the potential to be used as ultra-compact polarization-demultiplexing on-chip devices for high–bit rate telecommunication applications.

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