Bends and splitters are typically the fundamental limiting waveguide components in reducing the size of planar lightwave circuits (PLCs) based on waveguides that have a low core/clad refractive index contrast, such as silicon-on-insulator (SOI) rib waveguides. This dissertation presents a solution to this problem in the form of trench-based bends (TBBs) and trench-based splitters (TBSs). Emphasis is placed on experimental demonstration of these components and their integration into practical devices exhibiting significant size reduction. First, a compact and low loss silicon-on-insulator rib waveguide 90◦ TBB is demonstrated based on an etched vertical interface and total internal reflection (TIR) realized by a trench filled with SU8. The measured loss for TE polarization is 0.32 dB ± 0.02 dB/bend at a wavelength of 1.55 μm, which is the best reported in literature. Next, 90◦ TBSs are reported in which each splitter occupies an area of only 11 μm x 11 μm. These components require fabrication of trenches with a nearly 10:1 aspect ratio. A variety of single TBSs are fabricated having different trench widths. The relative amount of power directed into the transmission and reflection arms of the splitters is measured. The TBS reflection and transmission ratio agrees with three dimensional (3D) finite difference time domain (FDTD) predictions. An 82 nm wide trench filled with index matching fluid is experimentally shown to have a reflection/transmission splitting ratio of 49/51 at a wavelength of 1550 nm. To increase the fabrication yield of TBSs, the splitter angle is modified from 90◦ to 105◦, which permits the trench width to be increased to 116 nm for a 50/50 splitter using SU8 as the trench fill material. The fabrication and measurement of compact 105◦ TBBs and TBSs are reported followed by their integration into 1 x 4, 1 x 8, and 1 x 32 trench-based splitter networks (TBSNs). The measured total optical loss of the 1 x 32 TBSN is 9.15 dB. Its size is only 700 μm x 1600 μm for an output waveguide spacing of 50 μm. Finally, a compact SOI trench-based ring resonator (TBRR) composed of 90◦ TBBs, TBSs, and rib waveguides is demonstrated. A TBRR with a ring circumference of 50 μm occupies an area of 20 x 20 μm. The free spectral range (FSR) is as large as 14 nm. By changing the trench fill material from SU8 (n = 1.57) to index fluid (n = 1.733), the peak wavelength can be shifted ∼2 nm. Fabricated TBSNs and TBRRs demonstrate that large size reductions are possible for devices based on TBBs and TBSs. The net result is bend and splitter configurations with a size that is essentially independent of core/clad refractive index contrast. The approach developed in this dissertation is applicable to a wide range of waveguide material systems that have small core/clad refractive index contrast.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Electrical and Computer Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





waveguide, bend, splitter, photonic integrated circuits, ring resonator, total internal reflection, silicon-on-insulator