Lasing of Erbium in Crystalline Silicon Photonic Nanostructures - LECSIN

Lead Research Organisation: University of St Andrews
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


This project focuses on the control of radiative emission of Erbium ions in photonic crystal nanostructures made of crystalline Silicon, with the goal of achieving laser emission around 1.54 micron wavelength. To this purpose, photonic crystal waveguides and nanocavities will be fabricated in Si membranes containing Erbium ions. Photonic structures will be designed such that the high-Q cavity modes be resonant with the narrow lines corresponding to Er emission, in order to tailor the radiative dynamics and to enhance optical gain. Micro-photoluminescence and pump-probe experiments under suitable pumping conditions will probe the radiative emission of Er, to achieve net gain and lasing threshold. Theoretical studies of Er emission coupled to nanocavity modes will allow exploring cavity quantum electrodynamics effects. The proposal builds on a new partnership involving a number of Young Researchers by leading groups with complementary expertise in Silicon photonics, nanotechnology, nano-photonics, and quantum optics.
Description We have enhanced silicon light emission by combining material processing and device engineering methods. Regarding materials processing, the emission level was increased by taking three routes. In all the three cases
the emission was further enhanced by coupling it with a photonic crystal (PhC) cavity via Purcell effect.
1. The first approach involved the incorporation of optically active defects into the silicon lattice by hydrogen plasma treatment or ion implantation. This process results in broad
luminescence bands centered at 1300 and 1500 nm. By coupling these emission bands with the photonic crystal cavity, we demonstrated a narrowband silicon light
emitting diode at room temperature. This silicon nano light emitting diode has a tunable emission line in the 1300-1600 nm range.
2. In the second approach, a narrow emission line at 1.28µm was created by carbon ion implantation, termed "G-line" emission. The possibility of enhancing the emission intensity of this line via the Purcell effect was investigated
3. The third approach involved the deposition of a thin film of an erbium disilicate on top of a PhC cavity. The erbium emission is enhanced by the PhC cavity. Using this method, an
optically pumped light source emitting at 1.54 µm and operating at room temperature was demonstrated.
Exploitation Route A practical application of silicon light source developed in this project in gas sensing is also demonstrated. As a first step, we demonstrated refractive index sensing, which is a
simple application for our source and demonstrates its capabilities, especially relating to the lack of cheap fiber coupling schemes. We also investigate several options for extending
applications into on-chip biological sensing
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Healthcare

Description Proof of Concept
Amount £475,000 (GBP)
Organisation Scottish Enterprise 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2013 
End 10/2015
Description Starting Grant
Amount € 1,495,452 (EUR)
Funding ID 337508 
Organisation European Research Council (ERC) 
Sector Public
Country Belgium
Start 12/2013 
End 12/2018
Title Silicon photoluminescence as a means of optical characterisation 
Description By optical pumping silicon nanostructures, a spectral signature can be quickly obtained that shows how the device is operating and its quality. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2013 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact None yet, but can potentially be used in industry as a means of wafer scale testing 
Description Collabaration with the University of Pavia 
Organisation University of Pavia
Country Italy 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We fabricate and design a range of nanophotonic devices.
Collaborator Contribution The team at the Unversity perform optical characterisation of the samples and provide input into the design process.
Impact 10.1063/1.3080683 10.1002/lpor.201200043 10.1016/j.photonics.2012.12.002 10.1016/j.physb.2011.12.115 10.1063/1.3580613 10.1063/1.3591174 10.1063/1.4803541 10.1088/0268-1242/27/4/045016 10.1088/2040-8978/12/10/104004 10.1103/PhysRevB.84.045423 10.1109/IPCon.2012.6358596 10.1109/IPCon.2012.6358851 10.1109/JQE.2012.2204960 10.1117/12.909248 10.1117/12.909389 10.1364/OE.18.016064 10.1364/OE.18.026613 10.1364/OE.21.010278 10.1364/OL.36.003100 10.1364/OL.38.000154
Start Year 2009
Title Wave vector matched resonator and bus waveguide system 
Description This describes a system in which efficient optical coupling can be realised between a nanocavity and a bus waveguide 
IP Reference WO2013017814 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2013
Licensed Commercial In Confidence
Impact Two projects have arisen from this discovery