An important building block in integrated optical circuits is an efficient link between the optical and electrical domain. Well-known examples of such links are integrated high-speed modulators to convert electrical signals into optical signals at very high-speed, and low-power tuning elements to compensate for variations in the device operation temperature and for device-to-device variations during fabrication. To enable such electro-optic links, the two most widely used physical effects are the plasma-dispersion effect and Joule heating. Although these effects are attractive to use due to their compatibility with standard photonic fabrication processes, their performance in integrated devices is intrinsically limited by high insertion losses and high-power dissipation.
Over the past decade, we established an alternative electro-optic switching technology by embedding a Pockels material into silicon-based photonic devices. We reached this goal by developing a process to fabricate ferroelectric barium-titanate (BTO) thin films on silicon substrates using advanced epitaxial deposition techniques and by developing a BTO process technology. We correlated the electro-optical properties of the thin films with their structural properties such as porosity and crystalline symmetry to show guidelines for improving the functional properties . By realizing integrated hybrid BTO/silicon devices, we demonstrated record-high, in-device Pockels coefficients of >900 pm/V . The Pockels effect in BTO-based photonic devices indeed enables extremely fast data modulation at rates beyond >40 Gbps and ultra-low-power electro-optic tuning of silicon and silicon-nitride waveguides. We also show ways of how to integrate and use BTO in plasmonic slot waveguide structures for very compact optical devices. With the development of a wafer-level integration scheme of single-crystalline BTO layers to a 200 mm process, we could demonstrate a viable path to combine the BTO-technology with existing fabrication routes .
With major breakthroughs in the past years, BTO has emerged as a strong candidate for a novel generation of electro-optic devices. Major achievements of the BTO technology will be covered in the presentation, ranging from important materials aspects, device development, integration concepts, and novel applications in the area of quantum computing, high-speed communication, and neuromorphic optical computing.
The work discussed has received funding from the European Commission under grant agreement numbers FP7-ICT-2013-11-619456 (SITOGA), H2020-ICT-2015-25-688579 (PHRESCO), and H2020-ICT-2017-1-780997 (plaCMOS), from the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation under contract number 15.0285, and from the Swiss National Foundation project no. 200021_159565 (PADOMO).
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