On-Chip Photonic Circuits for Atom-Light Interaction in Quantum Information and Integrated Optical Spectrometer for Astrophotonics
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Photonic circuits are becoming very promising in many different applications, such as optical amplification, optical switching and wavelength division multiplexing optical networks, lab-on-chip in bioengineering, atom-light interaction in quantum information processing, wavelength selecting and filtering in astronomy, etc. Thanks to major developments in the nanofabrication technology, smaller but more powerful photonic circuits can be made to realize more complex applications. Here we propose two on-chip photonic circuits: one is for atom-light interaction in quantum information, and the other is for an optical spectrometer in astronomy. Part I The atom-light interaction can be used for a number of quantum based application, such as quantum information processing and atomic sensing. These significant applications make atom-light interaction a strong candidate for next-generation quantum computers and ultraprecise magnetic or navigation sensors. People have proposed various types of atom-photon interaction, and enhancing the interaction by using a small mode area has also been demonstrated in several platforms such as a hollow-core fiber, a hollow-core waveguide, a tapered fiber, and a nanowaveguide. In our work, we propose a nanowaveguide platform for collective atom-light interaction through the evanescent optical field coupling. We have demonstrated a centimeter-long silicon nitride nanowaveguide that has a sub-micrometer mode area and high fiber-to-waveguide coupling efficiencies for near-infrared wavelengths, working as evanescent field atom trapping/probing of an ensemble of 87Rb atoms. Inverse tapers are made at both ends of the waveguide that adiabatically transfer the weakly guided fiber-coupled mode to a strongly guided mode with an evanescent field for a better fiber-waveguide coupling efficiency. The coupling efficiency improves from around 2% to around 80% for both wavelengths. Trapping atoms by nanowaveguide modes is challenging because the small mode area generates high heat flux at the waveguide in an ultra-high vacuum. This platform has good thermal conductance and could transfer high enough optical powers to trap atoms in an ultra-high vacuum compared to a standalone photonic crystal waveguide with no substrate or an evanescent field coupled with a nanofiber. We have experimentally measured the optical absorption of thermal 87Rb atoms through the guided waveguide mode. We have also demonstrated an atom-chip mirror MOT with the same dimension of the platform that can be transferred to the proximity of the surface by magnetic field controls. Part II In astronomical applications, wavelength analysis is very important especially for the wavelength selecting and filtering. Here we focus on the wavelength range from 1µm to 1.7µm. There are many valuable applications that make this near infrared wavelength range so important. For example, the Lyman-alpha line of hydrogen is one of the very important emission lines of hydrogen for understanding the origin and creation of the universe. Since the universe has expanded for more than 10 billion years after the big bang, the Lyman-alpha line of hydrogen has redshifted from 121.5nm to the 1µm-to-1.7µm wavelength range according to Hubble’s Law. In addition, analysis of this wavelength range can also help us understand many other cosmic phenomena such as quasars, Gamma-ray bursts, etc. Therefore, a good spectrometer is needed to achieve this. Here we present an echelle grating which is based on an on-chip spectrometer that covers the near infrared wavelength range from 1.45um to 1.7um. To begin with, we use optical waveguides as the input and output channels. We have successfully achieved a reliable fabrication process to make the on-chip echelle-grating spectrometer. We have also achieved high fiber-waveguide coupling efficiency (94% per facet at 1550nm) and low propagation loss (-0.975dB/cm at 1550nm) for the input and output waveguides. In addition, we have characterized the bending loss of the waveguide. Finally, we have successfully measured the output spectrum of the echelle grating we designed and found it to be in good agreement with our simulation.