Nature Photonics

In situ 3D nanoprinting of free-form coupling elements for hybrid photonic integration

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Hybrid photonic integration combines complementary advantages of different material platforms, offering superior performance and flexibility compared with monolithic approaches. This applies in particular to multi-chip concepts, where components can be individually optimized and tested. The assembly of such systems, however, requires expensive high-precision alignment and adaptation of optical mode profiles. We show that these challenges can be overcome by in situ printing of facet-attached beam-shaping elements. Our approach allows precise adaptation of vastly dissimilar mode profiles and permits alignment tolerances compatible with cost-efficient passive assembly techniques. We demonstrate a selection of beam-shaping elements at chip and fibre facets, achieving coupling efficiencies of up to 88% between edge-emitting lasers and single-mode fibres. We also realize printed free-form mirrors that simultaneously adapt beam shape and propagation direction, and we explore multi-lens systems for beam expansion. The concept paves the way to automated assembly of photonic multi-chip systems with unprecedented performance and versatility.