Optics Express

Self-phase modulation and nonlinear loss in silicon nanophotonic wires near the mid-infrared two-photon absorption edge

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We report an experimental study of picosecond pulse propagation through a 4-mm-long Si nanophotonic wire with normal dispersion, at excitation wavelengths from 1775 to 2250 nm. This wavelength range crosses the mid-infrared two-photon absorption edge of Si at μ2200 nm. Significant reduction in nonlinear loss due to two-photon absorption is measured as excitation wavelengths approach 2200 nm. At high input power, self-phase modulation is clearly demonstrated by the development of power-dependant spectral fringes. Asymmetry and blueshift in the appearance of the spectral fringes at 1775 nm versus 2200 nm is further shown to originate from a strong reduction in the intra-pulse density of two-photon absorption-generated free carriers and the associated freecarrier dispersion. Analysis of experimental data and comparison with numerical simulations illustrates that the two-photon absorption coefficient βTPA obtained here from nanophotonic wire measurements is in reasonable agreement with prior measurements of bulk silicon crystals, and that bulk Si values of the nonlinear refractive index n2 can be confidently incorporated in the modeling of pulse propagation in deeply-scaled waveguide structures. © 2011 Optical Society of America.