Fiber-chip edge coupler with large mode size for silicon photonic wire waveguides
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Fiber-chip edge couplers are extensively used in integrated optics for coupling of light between planar waveguide circuits and optical fibers. In this work, we report on a new fiber-chip edge coupler concept with large mode size for silicon photonic wire waveguides. The coupler allows direct coupling with conventional cleaved optical fibers with large mode size while circumventing the need for lensed fibers. The coupler is designed for 220 nm silicon-on-insulator (SOI) platform. It exhibits an overall coupling efficiency exceeding 90%, as independently confirmed by 3D Finite-Difference Time-Domain (FDTD) and fully vectorial 3D Eigenmode Expansion (EME) calculations. We present two specific coupler designs, namely for a high numerical aperture single mode optical fiber with 6 µm mode field diameter (MFD) and a standard SMF-28 fiber with 10.4 µm MFD. An important advantage of our coupler concept is the ability to expand the mode at the chip edge without leading to high substrate leakage losses through buried oxide (BOX), which in our design is set to 3 µm. This remarkable feature is achieved by implementing in the SiO2 upper cladding thin high-index Si3N4 layers. The Si3N4 layers increase the effective refractive index of the upper cladding near the facet. The index is controlled along the taper by subwavelength refractive index engineering to facilitate adiabatic mode transformation to the silicon wire waveguide while the Si-wire waveguide is inversely tapered along the coupler. The mode overlap optimization at the chip facet is carried out with a full vectorial mode solver. The mode transformation along the coupler is studied using 3D-FDTD simulations and with fully-vectorial 3D-EME calculations. The couplers are optimized for operating with transverse electric (TE) polarization and the operating wavelength is centered at 1.55 µm.
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