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Nano Lett. 2012 Jul 11;12(7):3562-8. doi: 10.1021/nl3011885. Epub 2012 Jun 6.

Low-loss, silicon integrated, aluminum nitride photonic circuits and their use for electro-optic signal processing.

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Department of Electrical Engineering, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06511, United States.


Photonic miniaturization requires seamless integration of linear and nonlinear optical components to achieve passive and active functions simultaneously. Among the available material systems, silicon photonics holds immense promise for optical signal processing and on-chip optical networks. However, silicon is limited to wavelengths above 1.1 μm and does not provide the desired lowest order optical nonlinearity for active signal processing. Here we report the integration of aluminum nitride (AlN) films on silicon substrates to bring active functionalities to chip-scale photonics. Using CMOS-compatible sputtered thin films we fabricate AlN-on-insulator waveguides that exhibit low propagation loss (0.6 dB/cm). Exploiting AlN's inherent Pockels effect we demonstrate electro-optic modulation up to 4.5 Gb/s with very low energy consumption (down to 10 fJ/bit). The ultrawide transparency window of AlN devices also enables high speed modulation at visible wavelengths. Our low cost, wideband, carrier-free photonic circuits hold promise for ultralow power and high-speed signal processing at the microprocessor chip level.


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