Potential for micromachined actuation of ultra-wide continuously tunable optoelectronic devices
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Tailored scaling represents a principle of success that, both in nature and in technology, allows the effectiveness of physical effects to be enhanced. Mutation and selection in nature are imitated in technology, e.g. by model calculation and design. Proper scaling of dimensions in natural photonic crystals and our fabricated artificial 1D photonic crystals (DBRs, distributed Bragg reflectors) enable efficient diffractive interaction in a specific spectral range. For our optical microsystems we illustrate that tailored miniaturization may also increase the mechanical stability and the effectiveness of spectral tuning by thermal and electrostatic actuation, since the relative significance of the fundamental physical forces involved considerably changes with scaling. These basic physical principles are rigorously applied in micromachined 1.55-μm vertical-resonator-based devices. We modeled, implemented and characterized 1.55-μm micromachined optical filters and vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser devices capable of wide, monotonic and kink-free tuning by a single control parameter. Tuning is achieved by mechanical actuation of one or several air-gaps that are part of the vertical resonator including two ultra-highly reflective DBR mirrors of strong refractive index contrast: (i) Δn=2.17 for InP/air-gap DBRs (3.5 periods) using GaInAs sacrificial layers and (ii) Δn=0.5 for Si3N4/SiO2 DBRs (12 periods) with a polymer sacrificial layer to implement the air-cavity. In semiconductor multiple air-gap filters, a continuous tuning of >8% of the absolute wavelength is obtained. Varying the reverse voltage (U=0–5 V) between the membranes (electrostatic actuation), a tuning range of >110 nm was obtained for a large number of devices. The correlation of the wavelength and the applied voltage is accurately reproducible without any hysteresis. In two filters, tuning of 127 and 130 nm was observed for about ΔU=7 V. The extremely wide tuning range and the very small voltage required are record values to the best of our knowledge. For thermally actuated dielectric filters based on polymer sacrificial layers, Δλ/ΔU=-7 nm/V is found.
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