High-Performance On-Chip Silicon Beamsplitter Based on Subwavelength Metamaterials for Enhanced Fabrication Tolerance

Nanomaterials (Basel). 2021 May 14;11(5):1304. doi: 10.3390/nano11051304.


Efficient power splitting is a fundamental functionality in silicon photonic integrated circuits, but state-of-the-art power-division architectures are hampered by limited operational bandwidth, high sensitivity to fabrication errors or large footprints. In particular, traditional Y-junction power splitters suffer from fundamental mode losses due to limited fabrication resolution near the junction tip. In order to circumvent this limitation, we propose a new type of high-performance Y-junction power splitter that incorporates subwavelength metamaterials. Full three-dimensional simulations show a fundamental mode excess loss below 0.1 dB in an ultra-broad bandwidth of 300 nm (1400-1700 nm) when optimized for a fabrication resolution of 50 nm, and under 0.3 dB in a 350 nm extended bandwidth (1350-1700 nm) for a 100 nm resolution. Moreover, analysis of fabrication tolerances shows robust operation for the fundamental mode to etching errors up to ±20 nm. A proof-of-concept device provides an initial validation of its operation principle, showing experimental excess losses lower than 0.2 dB in a 195 nm bandwidth for the best-case resolution scenario (i.e., 50 nm).

Keywords: Y-junction; beamsplitter; fabrication-tolerant; photonic integrated circuits; power division; silicon photonics; subwavelength metamaterial; ultra-broadband.