Photonic ring resonator notch filters for astronomical OH line suppression

P. Liu
Northwestern University,
United States

Keywords: astronomical optics, waveguides, micro-optical devices, ring resonators, filters


Photonic ring resonator arrays used as notch filters are a promising novel solution to improve the signal-to-noise ratio of ground-based astronomical observations by suppressing OH emission lines in the near-infrared (NIR) wavelength range (0.9-2.5 ┬Ám). We aim to fabricate a series of ring resonators connected by a waveguide, each with its resonance wavelength and full-width-half-maximum (FWHM) matched with one of the OH emission lines. The fundamental structure of ring resonator-based notch filters is a ring resonator evanescently coupled to a waveguide. However, since a single ring resonator has multiple modes each with a different wavelength separated by its free spectral range (FSR), the additional suppression at other wavelengths may undermine the signal. Therefore, the ideal FSR off the ring resonators needs to be larger than the measurement window. For this application, we aim the FSR to be larger than 30 nm [1]. Our initial measurement results revealed two major challenges for this application. First, the FSR of the ring resonators is limited by the bending loss of ring resonators. In a standard 220 nm silicon-on-insulator material platform, the FSR of ring resonators cannot exceed 30 nm; Second, due to the wafer thickness variation, the achievable accuracy in the resonance wavelength of a fabricated single ring resonator is only ~1.5 nm. In this work, we report our novel solutions to the above two challenges. For the first one, we have developed a novel structure based on the Vernier effect to greatly raise the FSR of ring resonators. Serially coupled Vernier ring structures is a typical approach to increase the FSR without encountering bending loss, but it requires restrictive matching of the coupling and optical loss of the rings and any imperfect matching can result in even noisier signals. On the contrary, our structure, as shown in shown in Fig. 1, does not require the restrictive matching. Fig. 2 shows the finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) simulation results of the final output signal. As can be seen, the FSR of the entire structure is well-beyond 60 nm with little noise at other wavelengths. For the second one, we have developed an easy-to-implement method to permanently tune the resonance wavelengths of ring resonators within 0.1 nm accuracy. The tuning mechanism is based on the property of hydrogen silsesquioxane (HSQ) resist. As a negative tone electron beam resist, HSQ upon exposure will cross-link and eventually form SiO2. The refractive index of HSQ resist and formed SiO2 are slightly different2, enabling the tuning. By having a thin layer of HSQ resist on top of ring resonator structures followed by SiO2 cladding, the resonance wavelengths of ring resonators can be post-tuned through electron beam exposure. We have found that, within 5 nm tuning range, the resonance wavelength shift and dosage applied obeys a linear relationship. So a simple calibration beforehand can result in resonance wavelength tuning within 0.1 nm accuracy. The transmission spectra of a 3-ring device before and after tuning is shown in Fig. 3.