Light: Science and Applications

Low-loss optical waveguides made with a high-loss material

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For guiding light on a chip, it has been pivotal to use materials and process flows that allow low absorption and scattering. Based on subwavelength gratings, here, we show that it is possible to create broadband, multimode waveguides with very low propagation losses despite using a strongly absorbing material. We perform rigorous coupled-wave analysis and finite-difference time-domain simulations of integrated waveguides that consist of pairs of integrated high-index-contrast gratings. To showcase this concept, we demonstrate guiding of visible light in the wavelength range of 550–650 nm with losses down to 6 dB/cm using silicon gratings that have a material absorption of 13,000 dB/cm at this wavelength and are fabricated with standard silicon photonics technology. This approach allows us to overcome traditional limits of the various established photonics technology platforms with respect to their suitable spectral range and, furthermore, to mitigate situations where absorbing materials, such as highly doped semiconductors, cannot be avoided because of the need for electrical driving, for example, for amplifiers, lasers and modulators.



Light: Science and Applications