Correcting phase errors is key to building low cost, high performance integrated optical phased arrays for mass-market applications such as automotive lidar. In this work, we present a phase interrogator component for optical phased arrays which enables the phase error to be measured immediately before the output array of optical emitters. A 32-element silicon/silicon nitride optical phased array is realized in a dual layer photonics stack to verify the component performance. Silicon enables high density integration of photonic components and the phase interrogator has a compact design which fits between waveguides with a separation of 2.5 μm. The phase interrogators enable correction of the beam without any measurement or evaluation of the far-field.
Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs) in the visible wavelength range have been extensively used for life science applications. Silicon Nitride has been the most widely used material, as it allows to fabricate low loss waveguides with the refractive index ranging from 1.9 to 2.1. For downscaling of PICs, many investigations into Titanium Oxide (TiO2) have been studied. The refractive index of TiO2 ranges from 2.3 to 2.6. Despite a high refractive index, TiO2 tends to crystallize at temperatures above 300ºC, limiting its potential for CMOS compatible fabrication. In addition, the presence of oxygen vacancies in TiO2 results into photon absorption in the visible range, leading to high propagation losses. We investigate Niobium Oxide (Nb2O5) as an alternative waveguide material, focusing on material and optical properties for light propagation in the visible wavelength range. Physical vapor deposition of the Nb target in Oxygen atmosphere results in stoichiometric Nb2O5. On a 200mm wafer, a 90nm Nb2O5 is deposited on 2.3µm bottom clad (SiO2). The extracted refractive index is above 2.3, while the extinction coefficient is 0 for visible wavelengths. From X-ray diffraction, the as-deposited layers were amorphous, while the surface roughness was below 0.3 nm. Waveguides were patterned using 193 nm lithography and etched using chlorine based chemistry. In the visible range, optical losses for un-cladded waveguides were below 5 dB/cm, comparable to our in-house SiN platform. There were no significant changes in optical losses after 400ºC anneal, signifying its potential for improved propagation after top-cladding deposition.