We propose and investigate the use of slanted surface-relief gratings with nonbinary profiles as high-efficiency broadband couplers for light guides. First, a Chandezon-method-based rigorous numerical formulation is presented for modeling the slanted gratings with overhanging profiles. Then, two typical types of slanted grating couplers—a sinusoidal one and a trapezoidal one—are studied and optimized numerically, both exhibiting a high coupling efficiency of over 50% over the full band of white LED under the normal illumination of unpolarized light. Reasonable structural parameters with nice tolerance have been obtained for the optimized designs. It is found that the performance of the couplers depends little on the grating profile shape, but primarily on the grating period and the slant angle of the ridge. The underlying mechanism is analyzed by the equivalence rules of gratings, which provide useful guidelines for the design and fabrication of the couplers. Preliminary investigation has been performed on the fabrication and replication of the slanted overhanging grating couplers, which shows the feasibility of fabrication with mature microfabrication techniques and the perspective for mass production.
© 2010 Optical Society of America
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