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Towards a multi-input astrophotonic AWG spectrograph

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posted on 2023-11-30, 18:30 authored by Pradip Gatkine, Sylvain Veilleux, Yiwen Hu, Joss Bland-Hawthorn, Mario Dagenais
Astrophotonics is the new frontier technology to develop diffraction-limited, miniaturized, and cost-effective instruments for the next generation of large telescopes. For various astronomical studies such as probing the early universe, observing in near infrared (NIR) is crucial. To address this, we are developing moderate resolution (R = 1500) on-chip astrophotonic spectrographs in the NIR bands (J Band: 1.1-1.4 $\mu m$; H band: 1.45-1.7 $\mu m$) using the concept of arrayed waveguide gratings (AWGs). We fabricate the AWGs using a silica-on-silicon substrate. The waveguides on these AWGs are 2 $\mu m$ wide and 0.1 $\mu m$ high Si3N4 core buried inside a 15 $\mu m$ thick SiO2 cladding. To make the maximal use of astrophotonic integration such as coupling the AWGs with multiple single-mode fibers coming from photonic lanterns or fiber Bragg gratings (FBGs), we require a multi-input AWG design. In a multi-input AWG, the output spectrum due to each individual input channel overlaps to produce a combined spectrum from all inputs. This on-chip combination of light effectively improves the signal-to-noise ratio as compared to spreading the photons to several AWGs with single inputs. In this paper, we present the design and simulation results of an AWG in the H band with 3 input waveguides (channels). The resolving power of individual input channels is 1500, while the overall resolving power with three inputs together is 500, 600, 750 in three different configurations simulated here. The free spectral range of the device is 9.5 nm around a central wavelength of 1600 nm. For the standard multi-input AWG, the relative shift between the output spectra due to adjacent input channels is about 1.6 nm, which roughly equals one spectral channel spacing. In this paper, we discuss ways to increase the resolving power and the number of inputs without compromising the free spectral range or throughput.

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