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Experimental demonstration of directive Si3N4 optical leaky wave antennas with semiconductor perturbations at near infrared frequencies


Directive optical leaky wave antennas (OLWAs) with tunable radiation pattern are promising integrated optical modulation and scanning devices. OLWAs fabricated using CMOS-compatible semiconductor planar waveguide technology have the potential of providing high directivity with electrical tunability for modulation and switching capabilities. We experimentally demonstrate directive radiation from a silicon nitride (Si3N4) waveguide-based OLWA. The OLWA design comprises 50 crystalline Si perturbations buried inside the waveguide, with a period of 1 μm, each with a length of 260 nm and a height of 150 nm, leading to a directive radiation pattern at telecom wavelengths. The measured far-field radiation pattern at the wavelength of 1540 nm is very directive, with the maximum intensity at the angle of 84.4° relative to the waveguide axis and a half-power beam width around 6.2°, which is consistent with our theoretical predictions. The use of semiconductor perturbations facilitates electronic radiation control thanks to the refractive index variation induced by a carrier density change in the perturbations. To assess the electrical modulation capability, we study carrier injection and depletion in Si perturbations, and investigate the Franz-Keldysh effect in germanium as an alternative way. We theoretically show that the silicon wire modulator has a -3 dB modulation bandwidth of 75 GHz with refractive index change of 3×10-4 in depletion mode, and 350 MHz bandwidth with refractive index change of 1.5×10-2 in injection mode. The Franz-Keldysh effect has the potential to generate very fast modulation in radiation control at telecom wavelengths.

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