Waveguide optics takes up a prominent role in the progressing miniaturization of optical devices. Chip integrated photonic waveguides especially allow for complex routing schemes of light across a chip. In/out-coupling diffraction gratings form an essential tool in waveguide systems, as they facilitate the interaction between the waveguide system and the near or far-field.[1,2] Ideally, these gratings would couple out all light in the waveguide into a beam with a predefined polarization and, phase and intensity profile. As such they should be able to produce any functional beam that is typically prepared by free space optics. Yet, in practice there is typically a design trade-off between beam quality and out-coupling efficiency. Light in the waveguide has to travel laterally through the grating to be coupled out. The light therefore decays exponentially over the grating, causing much more light to be coupled out at the start of the grating than at the end. This asymmetry results in a warped out-coupling intensity that heavily influences the light beam’s intensity profile. Especially when the grating is addressing points in the near field, as is the case for focusing waveguide grating couplers, this effect can be highly disruptive.
In this work we present a grating constructed from a field of sub-wavelength scatterers, rather than full grating lines. By tuning the position and the density of the scatterers, the phase and the intensity of the out-coupled light can be set precisely over large grating areas. An iterative design algorithm is developed that carefully tunes the density so as to control the light intensity in the waveguide and the amount of out-coupled light. Using FDTD simulations we show that these gratings can efficiently couple out light into a nearly diffraction limited spot with an even angular intensity. We verify this experimentally by fabricating these gratings in the SiN/SiO2 system using e-beam lithography. In addition, we also show that these gratings can couple out more complex holographic patterns.
These density controlled out-coupling gratings let us efficiently address the near-field on optical chips, making them ideal waveguide components for on-chip optical trapping, holographic imaging or fluorescent excitation.
Fluorescence detection is a commonly used technique to detect particles. Microscopes are used for the fluorescence detection of the micro-particles. However, the conventional microscopes are bulky. It is cumbersome to integrate all the equipment used for detection in one setup. They can be replaced by photonic chips for the detection of micro-particles such as cells. Most of the biological detection techniques require the utilization of the visible range of the spectrum. SiN as a waveguide material stands out for biological applications due to its transparency in the visible spectrum. Specifically designed grating couplers can be exploited to focus from inside SiN waveguides at a designated location above the chip. Those SiN focusing grating couplers can mimic microscope objectives for on-chip biological detection applications such as fluorescence and Raman spectroscopy. In this report, we present a 2D SiN focusing grating coupler. We study the effect of the grating design on the focus properties of visible light using finite-difference time-domain simulations.
Lens-free in-line Holographic Microscopy (LHM) is a promising imaging technique for many biomedical and industrial applications. The main advantage of the technique is the simplicity of the imaging hardware, requiring no lenses nor high-precision mechanical components. Nevertheless, the LHM systems achieve high imaging performance only in combination with a high-quality and complex illumination. Furthermore, to achieve truly high-throughput imaging capabilities, many applications require a complete on-chip integration. We demonstrate the strength, versatility and scalability of our integrated approach on two microscopes-on-chip instances that combine image sensor technologies with photonics (and micro-fluidics): a fully integrated Point-Source (PS) LHM module for in-flow cell inspection and Large Field-of-View (LFoV) microscope with on-chip photonic illumination for large-area imaging applications. The proposed PS-LHM module consists of a photonic illumination, a micro-fluidic channel and an imager, integrated in a total volume smaller than 0.5 mm3. A low-loss single-mode photonic waveguide is adapted to generate a high- NA illumination spot. Experimental results show strong focusing capabilities and sufficient overall coupling efficiency. Current PS-LHM prototype reaches imaging resolution below 600nm. Our LFoV-LHM system is extremely vertically compact as it consists of only one 1mm-thick illumination chip and one 3mm-thick imaging module. The illumination chip is based on fractal-layout phase-matched waveguides designed to generate multiple light sources that create a quasi-planar illumination wavefront over an area few square millimeter large. Current illumination prototype has active area of approximately 1.2×1.2mm2. Our LFoV-LHM prototype reaches imaging resolution of 870nm using image sensor with 1.12μm pixel pitch with maximum FoV of 16.47mm2.