Abstract

We design, fabricate, and characterize the micromachined refractive variable optical attenuator (VOA) with a wedge-shaped silicon optical leaker (SOL). The vertical structures of the VOA device can be simply fabricated by deep reactive ion etching with no sidewall metallization, and the 8° angled fibers are employed for a high return loss even in air-ambient conditions. The SOL successively transmits and refracts part of the incident light far outside the acceptance angle of the output fiber, showing an effective optical attenuation. The fabricated VOA gives high optical performances, such as a response time of 6 ms, a return loss of 39 dB, an insertion loss of 0.6 dB, an attenuation range of 43 dB, and a polarization-dependent loss (PDL) of a 10% attenuation level, including a wavelength-dependent loss. The optical characteristics of the VOA are also theoretically investigated with respect to the wedge angles of the SOL. The experimental characteristics are in good agreement with the theoretical values calculated, considering light scattered from the endface of an optical fiber and sidewall of the SOL. The PDL estimation was confirmed especially to sufficiently explain the fundamental characteristic of the PDL for the refractive VOA.

© 2004 Optical Society of America

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