Abstract

In this paper, we report on the first attempt to design, fabricate, and test an on-chip optical amplifier which works at 1540 nm and can be electrically driven. It is based on an asymmetric silicon slot waveguide which embeds the active material. This is based on erbium-doped silicon rich silicon oxide. We describe the horizontal asymmetric slot waveguide design which allows us to get a high field confinement in a nanometer thick active layer. In addition, we detail the complex process needed to fabricate the structure. The waveguides have been characterized both electrically as well as optically. Electroluminescence can be excited by hot carrier injection, due to impact excitation of the Er ions. Propagation losses have been measured and high values have been found due to processing defects. Pump and probe measurements show a voltage dependent strong attenuation of the probe signal due to free carrier accumulation and absorption in the slot waveguide region. At the maximum electrical pumping level, electroluminescence signal is in the range of tens of µW/cm2 and the overall loss of the device is only -6 dB. Despite not demonstrating optical amplification, this study shines some light on the path to achieve an all-silicon electrically driven optical amplifier.

© 2012 IEEE

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