Foundry-fabricated grating coupler demultiplexer inverse-designed via fast integral methods

C. Sideris, A. Khachaturian, A.D. White, O.P. Bruno, A. Hajimiri

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Silicon photonics is an emerging technology which, enabling nanoscale manipulation of light on chips, impacts areas as diverse as communications, computing, and sensing. Wavelength division multiplexing is commonly used to maximize throughput over a single optical channel by modulating multiple data streams on different wavelengths concurrently. Traditionally, wavelength (de)multiplexers are implemented as monolithic devices, separate from the grating coupler, used to couple light into the chip. This paper describes the design and measurement of a grating coupler demultiplexer—a single device which combines both light coupling and demultiplexing capabilities. The device was designed by means of a custom inverse design algorithm which leverages boundary integral Maxwell solvers of extremely rapid convergence as the mesh is refined. To the best of our knowledge, the fabricated device enjoys the lowest insertion loss reported for grating demultiplexers, small size, high splitting ratio, and low coupling-efficiency imbalance between ports, while meeting the fabricability constraints of a standard UV lithography process.