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A comparison of phase change materials in reconfigurable silicon photonic directional couplers

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posted on 2023-01-11, 22:56 authored by Ting Yu Teo, Milos Krbal, Jan Mistrik, Jan Prikryl, Li Lu, Robert Edward Simpson
The unique optical properties of phase change materials (PCMs) can be exploited to develop efficient reconfigurable photonic devices. Here, we design, model, and compare the performance of programmable 1X2 optical couplers based on: Ge$_2$Sb$_2$Te$_5$, Ge$_2$Sb$_2$Se$_4$Te$_1$, Sb$_2$Se$_3$, and Sb$_2$S$_3$ PCMs. Once programmed, these devices are passive, which can reduce the overall energy consumed compared to thermo-optic or electro-optic reconfigurable devices. Of all the PCMs studied, our ellipsometry refractive index measurements show that Sb$_2$S$_3$ has the lowest absorption in the telecommunications wavelength band. Moreover, Sb$_2$S$_3$-based couplers show the best overall performance, with the lowest insertion losses in both the amorphous and crystalline states. We show that by growth crystallization tuning at least four different coupling ratios can be reliably programmed into the Sb$_2$S$_3$ directional couplers. We used this effect to design a 2-bit tuneable Sb$_2$S$_3$ directional coupler with a dynamic range close to 32 dB. The bit-depth of the coupler appears to be limited by the crystallization stochasticity.



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