Novel printing technologies for nanophotonic and nanoelectronic devices
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As optical interconnects make their paces to replace traditional electrical interconnects, implementing low cost optical components and hybrid optic-electronic systems are of great interest. In the research work described in this dissertation, we are making our efforts to develop several practical optical components using novel printing technologies including imprinting, ink-jet printing and a combination of both. Imprinting process using low cost electroplating mold is investigated and applied to the waveguide molding process, and it greatly reduces the surface roughness and thus the optical propagation loss. The imprinting process can be applied to photonic components from multi-mode waveguides with 50[mu]m critical dimension down to photonic crystal structures with 500nm hole diameter. Compared to traditional lithography process, imprinting process is featured by its great repeatability and high yield to define patterns on existing layers. Furthermore we still need an approach to deposit layers and that is the reason we integrate the ink-jet printing technology, another low-cost, low material consumption, environmental friendly process. Ink-jet printing process is capable of depositing a wide range of materials, including conductive layer, dielectric layer or other functional layers with defined patterns. Together with molding technology, we demonstrate three applications: proximity coupler, thermo-optic (TO) switch and electro-optic (EO) polymer modulator. The proximity coupler uses imprinted 50[mu]m waveguide with embedded mirrors and ink-jet printed micro-lenses to improve the board-to-board optical interconnects quality. The TO switch and EO modulator both utilize imprinting technology to define a core pattern in the cladding layer. Ink-jet printing is used to deposit the core layer for TO switch and the electrode layers for EO modulator. The fabricated TO switch operates at 1 kHz with less than 0.5ms switching time and the EO modulator shows V[pi][middle dot]L=5.68V[middle dot]cm. To the best of our knowledge, these are the first demonstrations of functional optical switches and modulators using printing method. To further enable the high rate fabrication of ink-jet printed photonic and electronic devices with multiple layers on flexible substrate, we develop a roll-to-roll ink-jet printing system, from hardware integration to software implementation. Machine vision aided real time automatic registration is achieved when printing multiple layers.