Rezem, Maher: Replication of planar polymer micro-optical waveguides and components. Hannover : Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universität, Diss., 2018, x, 119 S. DOI: https://doi.org/10.15488/4674
Photonic integrated circuits represent a topic of increasing interest in the researchcommunity. Its attractiveness is linked to the potential wide range of applications in the elds of optical telecommunication, photonic computing and optical sensing. Parallel to semiconductor and silicon photonics, polymerbased optical integrated circuits are the focus of intense research due to the immense versatility in material properties and fabrication techniques of polymers compared to their semiconductor counterparts. This dissertation was conducted in the framework of the collaborative research center "Planar Optronic Systems" (PlanOS), which aims at developing novel low-cost fabrication techniques and applications for planar polymer-foil integrated optical circuits and sensors. This thesis specifically investigates the use of the hot embossing process to create such micro-optical and photonic structures in thin polymer films. To fabricate waveguide-based photonic elements on exible thermoplastic polymer substrates, a thermal imprinting process suited for replication in thin polymer films was developed and transferred to a commercial hot embossing system. Various stamp materials and fabrication techniques were investigated. The replication quality was optimized through process parameter studies and integration of custom embossing machine parts. The resulting replicated foils were then used as waveguide cladding. For the waveguide core, various thermosetting and UV curing polymer materials were tested. To deposit corematerials, a fabrication process based on two-step hot embossing, as well as acombination of hot embossing and doctor blading, were examined. The qualityof produced waveguides was investigated through the measurement of refractiveindex, propagation losses, crosstalk and bend losses. The experimentalresults demonstrate low propagation and bend losses and excellent signal confinement. Coupling structures in the form of grating arrays were then integrated in the obtained low-loss optical waveguides through di erent approaches. First, couplers and waveguides were fabricated on di erent polymer sheets and latercombined through thermal and adhesive bonding. Alternatively, a single-stepintegration process based on a silicon stamp having waveguide-integrated grating couplers was demonstrated. The obtained samples were used to fabricate hybrid and full-polymer optical transmission links. As an application for the waveguide manufacturing technique, optical beam splitters with di erent splitting properties were designed, fabricated and characterized with respect to their excess losses and power imbalance. The achieved components exhibit low excess losses and high output uniformity. Furthermore, optical strain sensors were successfully fabricated. The fabrication of microresonators through hot embossing was also pursued in the course of this work. A novel two-step replication process was developed, which is based on the replication of micro-pillars and the attening of their top surface to obtain disk shapes typical for resonator structures. A targetedmodification of resonator dimensions and shape was demonstrated through anadequate parameter study.
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