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Opt Lett. 2015 Nov 1;40(21):4859-62. doi: 10.1364/OL.40.004859.

Total internal reflection optical switch using the reverse breakdown of a pn junction in silicon.


We demonstrate a new type of silicon total-internal-reflection optical switch with a simple pn junction functioning both as a reflector and a heater. The reflector is placed between asymmetrically y-branched multimode waveguides with an inclination angle corresponding to half of the branch angle. When the reflector is at rest, incident light is reflected in accordance to the refractive index difference due to the plasma dispersion effect of the pre-doped carriers. Switching to the transmission state is attained under a reverse breakdown of the pn junction by the thermo-optic effect which smears the refractive index difference. From this switching scheme, we confirmed the switching operation with a shallow total-internal-reflection region of 1 μm width. At a 6° branch angle, an extinction ratio of 12 dB and an insertion loss of -4.2  dB are achieved along with a thermal heating power of 151.5 mW.


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