# Slot waveguide-based splitters for broadband terahertz radiation

**Shashank Pandey, Gagan Kumar, and Ajay Nahata*
**

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112, USA *nahata@ece.utah.edu

Abstract: We demonstrate a slot waveguide-based splitter for broadband terahertz (THz) radiation using a T-shaped waveguide structure. The structure consists of a fixed-width input waveguide and variable-width output waveguides. We experimentally measure and numerically simulate the THz transmission and reflection properties as a function of the output waveguide width and show that a transmission line model can effectively describe the observations. Based on the high degree of agreement between the experimental results, numerical simulations and the model, we infer the optimal waveguide parameters. The device structure offers new possibilities in designing compact THz devices.

© 2010 Optical Society of America

OCIS codes: (130.2790) Guided waves; (240.6690) Surface waves (260.3090) Infrared, far.

**References and links
**

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. E. A. J. Marcatili, “Bends in optical dielectric guides,” Bell Syst. Tech. J. 48, 2103–2132 (1969). R. A. Soref, and J. P. Lorenzo, “All silicon active and passive waveguide for λ= 1.3 and 1.6 μm,” IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 22(6), 873–879 (1986). A. Mekis, J. C. Chen, I. Kurland I, S. Fan, P. R. Villeneuve, and J. D. Joannopoulos, “High transmission through sharp bends in photonic crystal waveguides,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 77(18), 3787–3790 (1996). Y. Vlasov, and S. McNab, “Losses in single-mode silicon-on-insulator strip waveguides and bends,” Opt. Express 12(8), 1622–1631 (2004). R. Mendis, and D. Grischkowsky, “Undistorted guided-wave propagation of subpicosecond terahertz pulses,” Opt. Lett. 26(11), 846–848 (2001). M. Wächter, M. Nagel, and H. Kurz, “Metallic slit waveguide for dispersion-free low-loss terahertz signal transmission,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 90(6), 061111 (2007). M. Wächter, M. Nagel, and H. Kurz, “Low-loss terahertz transmission through curved metallic slit waveguides fabricated by spark erosion,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 92(16), 161102 (2008). J. A. Dionne, H. J. Lezec, and H. A. Atwater, “Highly confined photon transport in subwavelength metallic slot waveguides,” Nano Lett. 6(9), 1928–1932 (2006). L. Chen, J. Shakya, and M. Lipson, “Subwavelength confinement in an integrated metal slot waveguide on silicon,” Opt. Lett. 31(14), 2133–2135 (2006). P. Neutens, L. Lagae, G. Borghs, and P. Van Dorpe, “Electrical excitation of confined surface plasmon polaritons in metallic slot waveguides,” Nano Lett. 10(4), 1429–1432 (2010). G. Veronis, and S. Fan, “Guided subwavelength plasmonic mode supported by a slot in a thin metal film,” Opt. Lett. 30(24), 3359–3361 (2005). G. Veronis, and S. Fan, “Bends and splitters in metal-dielectric-metal subwavelength plasmonic waveguides,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 87(13), 131102 (2005). J. A. Dionne, L. A. Sweatlock, H. A. Atwater, and A. Polman, “Plasmon slot waveguides: Towards chip-scale propagation with subwavelength-scale localization,” Phys. Rev. B 73(3), 035407 (2006). R. A. Wahsheh, Z. Lu, and M. A. G. Abushagur, “Nanoplasmonic couplers and splitters,” Opt. Express 17(21), 19033–19040 (2009). A. A. Reiserer, J.-S. Huang, B. Hecht, and T. Brixner, “Subwavelength broadband splitters and switches for femtosecond plasmonic signals,” Opt. Express 18(11), 11810–11820 (2010). N. Marcuvitz, Waveguide Handbook (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1951). S. Ramo, J. R. Whinnery, and T. Van Duzer, Fields and Waves in Communication Electronics (Wiley, New York, 1994). T. H. Lee, Planar Microwave Engineering: A Practical Guide to Theory, Measurement, And Circuits (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004) A. Nahata, and T. F. Heinz, “Generation of subpicosecond electrical pulses by optical rectification,” Opt. Lett. 23(11), 867–869 (1998). A. Nahata, “Nonlinear optical generation and detection of ultrashort electrical pulses in transmission lines,” Opt. Lett. 26(6), 385–387 (2001).

#135175 - $15.00 USD

Received 15 Sep 2010; revised 19 Oct 2010; accepted 19 Oct 2010; published 22 Oct 2010

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25 October 2010 / Vol. 18, No. 22 / OPTICS EXPRESS 23466

which could be designed to utilize different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. 2. there have significantly more publications based on theory and simulation [11–15]. Numerical simulations for the propagation properties of the waveguide structures examined here were performed using 3D finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) simulations. d2. by increasing the refractive index contrast between the core and cladding. No. since it has the potential to allow for the fabrication of a variety of guided-wave devices. in principle. we find that there exists an optimal ratio for the waveguide widths in order to maximize the THz throughput. Hyper-hemispherical silicon lenses were used to couple the broadband THz pulses into and out of the waveguides. revised 19 Oct 2010. In the far-infrared. The latter structure is particularly appealing. In the experimental setup. greater losses are typically observed as one moves to higher and higher frequencies. set to 100 µm. we experimentally demonstrate a high transmittance slot waveguidebased splitter that incorporates sharp right angle bends (i. It is worth noting that slot waveguides have generated significant recent interest for guiding. d1. A photoconductive detector was oriented to measure the same polarization of the radiated THz pulses. The inclusion of the third metal sheet. We used a spatial grid size of 10 µm. so that the width of the output waveguides.e. each with a thickness. The metal was modeled as a perfect electrical conductor. Although there have been several experimental studies based on this waveguide geometry [8–10].5 cm long output waveguides. 18.7] waveguides.
#135175 . which is a reasonable approximation for real metals in the THz regime. This problem can be minimized. shown schematically in Fig. As an example. of 1 mm. w. accepted 19 Oct 2010. splitting. While the approach allows for sharp right angle bends. in typical optical waveguides. In this submission. and filtering at optical frequencies. as has been nicely demonstrated in the area of silicon photonics [2]. was 5 cm long with an input gap. The input slot waveguide. surrounded by air. The edges were polished using diamond machining.7]. However. for such geometries. Identical to conventional parallel plate waveguides. Introduction The ability to create sharp right angle bends in electronic interconnects has allowed for the creation of compact circuit layouts. By fixing the width of the input waveguide and varying the width of the output waveguides. such as parallel plate [5] and slot [6.$15.1. the lowest order mode of a slot waveguide does not exhibit a cutoff frequency and has recently been shown to guide broadband THz radiation in straight and s-bend geometries [6. 1(a). shown in Fig. a variety of technical issues have limited the practical realization of low loss bends and splitters [4]. in order to minimize propagation losses via scattering. published 22 Oct 2010
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25 October 2010 / Vol. a T-waveguide splitter) and supports the propagation of broadband THz radiation. radiative losses typically increase as the bend radii decrease [1]. to some extent. Both figures show locations of the THz electric field that will be discussed in the text below. We explain this using conventional transmission line theory. have been shown to allow for low loss. formed the two 2. 22 / OPTICS EXPRESS 23467
. Experimental details We fabricated the slot waveguide-based splitter using three aluminum sheets. There is great interest in creating analogous capabilities for optical circuits. the use of metal-dielectric-metal waveguide structures.00 USD
Received 15 Sep 2010. We used conventional THz time-domain spectroscopy to characterize the device. An alternative approach that has been developed utilizes photonic crystal waveguides [3]. where the refractive index contrast between the core and cladding tends to be somewhat small. could be varied. This third plate was placed on a translation stage. which was sufficient to ensure convergence of the numerical calculations. and perfectly matched layer absorbing boundary conditions for all boundaries. low dispersion propagation of broadband terahertz (THz) radiation. 1(b). a photoconductive device launched broadband THz pulses into the waveguide that were linearly polarized perpendicular to the long axis of the waveguide gap and parallel to the metal surface.

22 / OPTICS EXPRESS 23468
.E2
E5 d2 w E1 E6 E1
E3 E4
d1
d1
Eo
Eo
Fig. because different experimental geometries were used in measuring the different waveforms. The spectra associated with the outputs of the two slot waveguide configurations appears to exhibit somewhat greater high frequency content than the incident THz beam. although the latter spectrum is smaller in amplitude than the former. (a) Two metal plates separated by a gap spacing of d1 = 100 µm forms the input waveguide. 2. demonstrating true splitting capability. it is important to note that no inference of coupling efficiency can be made. as shown in Fig.00 USD
Received 15 Sep 2010. where i = 0…6. could be varied between 100 and 300 µm. and the associated dots correspond to points where the THz electric field could be measured.$15. was 1 mm. shown in Fig. Although all three time-domain waveforms.5 cm long output waveguides. This arises from the fact that the frequency content of the incident THz beam is spatially dependent. since the output coupling conditions were different. w. with the high frequency content more concentrated near the beam center. It is clear that there is no cutoff frequency associated with the outputs of the two different waveguide configurations. For the slot waveguides considered here. published 22 Oct 2010
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25 October 2010 / Vol. Figure 2 shows the measured time-domain THz waveforms in all three experimental configurations with d1 = 100 µm and d2 = 200 µm. demonstrating that no significant dispersion or pulse reshaping processes occurred. The spectra associated with E2 and E4 look very similar. corresponding to E2 and E4. where c is the speed of light in vacuum and d is the gap spacing in the slot waveguide. The thickness of the metal plates. the THz electric field was measured in the far-field. Figure 3 shows the corresponding normalized amplitude spectra. The next higher order TM1 mode is characterized by a cutoff frequency. 18. In all cases. both in the absence of the slot waveguides and at the output of the two different slot waveguide configurations. 1. are plotted on the same graph. νc = c/2d. as would be expected for the lowest order TM0 (TEM) mode [16]. The values of Ei. d 2. so that the width of the output waveguides. The double-sided red arrow shows the polarization of the input electric field. simulations and discussion We initially measured the time-domain and frequency-domain properties of the THz radiation. No. This third plate was placed on a translation stage. We note that the measured time-domain waveform at the position corresponding to E6 was nearly identical in all respects to E4. 1. Experimental results. Schematic diagram of two different slot waveguide geometries examined. We attribute the very similar looking oscillations in the two spectra to the identical input coupling conditions in the two waveguide geometries.
3. the smallest cutoff frequency occurs
#135175 . (b) A third metal sheet was included to form the two 2. revised 19 Oct 2010. accepted 19 Oct 2010. We attribute the difference largely to frequency-independent loss mechanisms associated with the longer propagation length.

8 E2 (x6) E4 (x6) 0. 1(a) (black trace) and at the output of the structure shown in Fig.0
Amplitude [a. 4.0
0.60 0.
20 15 E0
Signal [a.55 0.0 d2 / d
1
2. published 22 Oct 2010
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25 October 2010 / Vol.
In Fig. In order to obtain these values.0 E0 0.8 THz. accepted 19 Oct 2010.]
0. Measured time-domain waveforms in the absence of the waveguide structure (red trace).3
0. (Inset) Measured ratio of E4/E2 for d1 = 100 µm and d2 = 200 µm as a function of frequency.2
0. the lowest order TEM mode is the dominant mode. calculated as the average value between 0.2 0. as a function of d2/d1. 2.00 USD
Received 15 Sep 2010. 18.5
2. 2.6 0. No.8 THz from Fig. Measured ratio of E4/E2 (filled circles).8
Frequency [THz]
Fig.u.0 0.u.6
0. for each value of d2/d1.$15.
0. νc = 0.45 0.40
0. 4.4 0. we computed the average value of E4/E2 between 0.5
3.0 0.5
0.50
E4 / E 2
1.1 and 0.5 THz). 2.6
0.e.0
E4 / E 2
0.1 and 0. Thus. we note that
#135175 .]
10 5 0 -5 0 5 10 15
E2 (x6)
E4 (x6)
20
25
Time Delay [ps]
Fig. The normalized amplitude spectra corresponding to the waveforms shown in Fig. revised 19 Oct 2010. 22 / OPTICS EXPRESS 23469
.0
Frequency [THz]
1. 3.
1. we show the measured ratio of E4/E2 as a function of d2/d1.4
0.9
0. at the output of the structure shown in Fig. 1(b) (green trace).35 0.0
Fig. Since THz time-domain spectroscopy measures the electric field.when d2 = 300 µm (i.30 1.

We do not believe that this is a numerical artifact. and Z0 is the characteristic impedance of free space [17]. we show the results for FDTD simulations of the amplitude reflection coefficient along with the predictions based on the transmission line model Eq. 5. (b) Numerically calculated values of the amplitude reflection coefficient. Finally. Aside from the relatively small oscillations that appear as a function of frequency. ZL. accepted 19 Oct 2010. while the solid line corresponds to the fit using Eq.00 USD
Received 15 Sep 2010. (1). (a) The equivalent transmission line model for the waveguide geometry shown in Fig. In general. a negative value of r simply implies that the broadband pulse encounters a π phase shift upon reflection. we use numerical finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) simulations to demonstrate that a simple a simple transmission line model accurately describes the data. we want Z1 = ZL = Z2/2 and. therefore. It is worth noting that for d2/d1 = 2. the amplitude reflection value is not exactly equal to zero.E4/E2 can be greater than 0. as a function of d2/d1. 1(b). Using these definitions.e. In an analogous fashion. the ratio is relatively frequency independent. t. The filled circles correspond to results from FDTD simulations with w = 1 mm and d1 = 100 µm. 5(a). 18. The fact that this ratio is essentially frequency independent over the frequency range considered here suggests a relatively simple model may be used to interpret the data. Rather. is given by
t E3 2Z 2 .5. d1 = d2/2. This is equally true for data obtained with other values of d2. In order to understand this data and predict the properties of other analogous waveguide geometries. the internal amplitude (electric field) transmission coefficient. (1).
In Fig. as shown in Fig. To demonstrate this. r
Fig. (1) Z L Z1 Z 2 2Z1 In order to minimize the amplitude reflection. where the input waveguide has a characteristic impedance given by Z1 = Z0 d1/w.$15. 5(b). we model the slot T-waveguide as the junction of three transmission lines. published 22 Oct 2010
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25 October 2010 / Vol. the excellent agreement suggests that the simple model is sufficient for the geometry and dimensions described here. the amplitude reflection coefficient is given by
Z L Z1 Z 2 2Z1 . The effective load impedance. we believe it arises from the fact that the transmission line model is only a (good) approximation. No. r. each of the output waveguides have a characteristic impedance given by Z2 = Z0 d2/w. We note that this differs from the analysis given in [12]. seen by the input waveguide consists of the parallel combination of the two output waveguides (i. The inset shows the ratio as a function of frequency for d1 = 100 µm and d2 = 200 µm. 22 / OPTICS EXPRESS 23470
. ZL = Z2/2). E1 (2 Z1 Z 2 )
(2)
#135175 . revised 19 Oct 2010.

Finally. we show E4/E2 as a function of d2/d1 obtained from numerical simulations.0
1.0 d2 / d
1
2. We also scaled the FDTD simulation results by the same factor of 0.
#135175 . (3) to the experimental data occurs with ξ = 0. is not equal to 1 may arise. between the experimental and numerical results suggests that the transmission line model may be used to compute other parameters relevant to the current geometry and may be extended to other slot waveguide-based device geometries.00 USD
Received 15 Sep 2010. we now apply it the measured transmission properties. 4) and Eq. from the right angle geometry of the structure. we couple broadband THz radiation into the structure from an external source. We expect that by embedding a nonlinear optical medium into the input slot waveguide and directly generating broadband THz radiation within the device. E4/E2. ξ. we have demonstrated a high transmittance slot waveguide-based splitter that incorporates right angle bends.82. No. both the signal-to-noise and bandwidth of the guide-wave mode may be dramatically improved [19. Based on conservation of energy considerations.0
Fig. experimental results (taken from Fig.5
3. Ratio of E4/E2 as a function of d2/d1. published 22 Oct 2010
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25 October 2010 / Vol.30 1. In Fig. including propagation losses due to the finite conductivity of metals at THz frequencies as well as scattering from surface imperfections.45 0. in part. 18.
4.82 and no other free parameters.20].As with the amplitude reflection coefficient.60 0. Within a multiplicative factor close to 1. we demonstrate that a transmission line model accurately models the data. within a scaling factor. Conclusion In conclusion. 6.55 0.$15. the best fit of Eq. In the figure. The fact that this factor. It is straightforward to show that
2Z 2 ( Z o Z1 ) E4 . The use of mitered bends has been shown previously to reduce the potential for parasitic discontinuity capacitances at microwave frequencies [18]. it is clear that |r|2 + 2 (Z1/ZL)|t|2 = 1.82 and no other free parameters. Given that the numerical FDTD simulations and the transmission line model agree well for the experimental conditions discussed above. accepted 19 Oct 2010.5
2. which is further validated by numerical simulations.35 0.50
E4 / E 2
0. numerical simulations agree well with predictions based on Eq. Such capabilities offer new opportunities in developing compact broadband THz devices and circuits. 22 / OPTICS EXPRESS 23471
. and the solid line corresponds to the best fit to Eq. The filled (black) circles correspond to experimental data. Acknowledgements We gratefully acknowledge support of this work through the National Science Foundation (NSF) grants ECCS-0824025 and DMR-0415228. The excellent agreement.
0. 6. (2) with ξ = 0. revised 19 Oct 2010. (2) (not shown).82.40 0. E2 (2Z1 Z 2 )( Z o Z 2 )
(3)
where ξ is a constant that accounts for a number of non-idealities that occur in experiments. differences in detection efficiencies for E4 and E2 and other possible loss mechanisms. (3). the filled (red) triangles correspond to results obtained from FDTD simulations scaled by a factor of 0.