Fabrication of low-loss channel waveguides in Al2O3 and Y2O3 layers by inductively coupled plasma reactive ion etching
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Etching of amorphous Al2O3 and polycrystalline Y2O3 films has been investigated using an inductively coupled reactive ion etch system. The etch behaviour has been studied by applying various common process gases and combinations of these gases, including CF4/O2, BCl3, BCl3/HBr, Cl2, Cl2/Ar and Ar. The observed etch rates of Al2O3 films were much higher than Y2O3 for all process gases except for Ar, indicating a much stronger chemical etching component for the Al2O3 layers. Based on analysis of the film etch rates and an investigation of the selectivity and patterning feasibility of possible mask materials, optimized optical channel-waveguide structures were fabricated in both materials. In Al2O3, channel waveguides were fabricated with BCl3/HBr plasma and using a standard resist mask, while in Y2O3, channel waveguides were fabricated with Ar and using either a resist or a sputter deposited Al2O3 mask layer. The etched structures in both materials exhibit straight sidewalls with minimal roughness and sufficient etch depths (up to 530 nm for Al2O3 and 250 nm for Y2O3) for defining waveguides with strong optical confinement. Using the developed etch processes, low additional optical propagation losses (on the order of 0.1 dB/cm) were demonstrated in single-mode ridge waveguides in both Al2O3 and Y2O3 layers at 1550 nm.
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