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One-way optical transmission in silicon grating-photonic

crystal structures
Yanyu Zhang,
Qiang Kan,
and Guo Ping Wang
School of Physics and Technology, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
Key Laboratory of Semiconductor Materials Science, Institute of Semiconductors, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100083, China
College of Electronic Science and Technology, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518060, China
*Corresponding author:
Received May 14, 2014; revised July 2, 2014; accepted July 15, 2014;
posted July 16, 2014 (Doc. ID 212072); published August 15, 2014
One-way optical transmission through a composite structure of grating-photonic crystal (PC) is presented. This uni-
directional transportation property originates from the diffraction of grating to change the direction of light incident
into the PC from pseudobandgaps to passbands of the PC. Numerical simulation shows that a light beamin a certain
range of frequencies can transmit the composite structure when it is incident from the grating interface but is com-
pletely reflected by the structure when it is incident from the PC interface, which is further verified experimentally.
The present structure may provide another more compact way for designing on-chip optical diode-like integrated
devices. 2014 Optical Society of America
OCIS codes: (130.3120) Integrated optics devices; (230.5298) Photonic crystals; (230.1950) Diffraction gratings.
Recently, much research has been devoted to all-optical
devices due to their important potential applications in
optical communication and quantum computers [1,2].
A unidirectional transmission device, which allows light
to pass in one direction but be blocked in the opposite
direction, is a fundamental element among them. In order
to realize unidirectional propagation, magneto-optic ma-
terials [35], optics nonlinearity [68], metamaterials
[911], and indirect interband photonic transition [12],
etc., have been employed. On the other hand, structures
like dielectric or metal gratings [1315], parity time sym-
metry waveguides [16,17], plasmonic subwavelength slits
[18,19], and photonic crystals (PCs) with pseudobandg-
aps [2022] have been reported. However, grating and
PC slab structures may be a little more complicated to
realize in experiment or have lower one-way contrast
ratio and higher loss. Plasmonic subwavelength slits usu-
ally work in a narrow band of frequency. In this Letter,
we present a simple and compact composite structure of
silicon grating-PC to realize one-way transmission in a
wideband range of frequency with reasonable high-
contrast ratio and low loss.
Figure 1(a) shows the schematic configuration of the
present composite grating-PC structure. It consists of a
rectangular grating and a two-dimensional PC with the
same height (h 320 nm). The PC has a square lattice
constructed with circular silicon rods. The lattice con-
stant is a 600 nm, and the radius of the silicon rods
is r 225 nm. The thickness of the rectangular silicon
grating is t 210 nm, and the grating constant is
1800 nm, with slit width w 600 nm. The distance
between the grating and PC is d, which is a variation in
the following discussion.
Figure 1(b) shows the simulated transmission spectra
of a transverse magnetic (TM) polarized plane light nor-
mally incident from the grating interface (forward, red
solid line) and PC interface (backward, blue dash line),
respectively, by using the finite-difference time-domain
(FDTD) method [23]. In the simulations, the refractive
index of silicon is set to 3.49 at 1400 nm and the distance
between grating and PC is d 93 nm. From the figure,
we can see that there exists an asymmetric transmission
region ranging from 1355 to 1375 nm (gray region).
For instance, at wavelength 1360 nm, the forward trans-
mission of light forms a peak with a transmittance T
(transmitted light intensity divided by the incident light
intensity) of about 95% (black arrow), while the transmit-
tance of light in the backward direction is around 1%, in-
dicating that the incident light can only pass through the
composite structure in the forward direction.
On the other hand, we can also see that the transmis-
sion of light ranging from 1470 to 1630 nm (green slashed
region) is around zero from either the forward and
backward direction, which indicates that light with
wavelength falling into this range of frequency shows
no unidirectional transmission.
Figures 1(c) and 1(d) show the simulated electrical
field intensity distributions of a TM light at 1360 nm in-
cident in the forward [Fig. 1(c)] and backward [Fig. 1(d)]
directions, respectively. The arrows indicate the direc-
tions of the incident light. We can see that when the light
is incident from the grating interface into the composite
structure (forward) it can pass through the grating-PC
structure to the outside [Fig. 1(c)]. However, when the
light is incident from the PC interface into the structure
(backward), it is reflected back completely by several
layers of PC [Fig. 1(d)].
To understand the physics underlying the above one-
way transportation of light, we calculate the TM-mode
band structure of the PC (see Fig. 2) by using the
plane-wave expansion method [24]. The frequency is nor-
malized by, where is the incident wavelength.a From the
band structure, we can see that there exists a directional
bandgap (gray region) between the third and fourth
bands, ranging from 2c 0.4428 to 2c
0.4086 (from 1355 to 1470 nm in wavelength). Such a
gap stops the propagation of light along the X direc-
tion but allows the propagation of light along the M
direction. Therefore, by using a grating to change the di-
rection of light (ranging from 1355 to 1375 nm) incident
4934 OPTICS LETTERS / Vol. 39, No. 16 / August 15, 2014
0146-9592/14/164934-04$15.00/0 2014 Optical Society of America
into the PC from the X direction (stopband) to the
M direction (passband), we can make the light pass
through the composite structure. In contrast, if light is di-
rectly incident into the PC in the X direction, it will be
reflected completely since its frequency falls in the range
of the stopband of the PC. As a result, when light is
incident from the grating interface (forward direction),
transmission is permitted. But for the light incident from
the PC interface (backward direction), transmission is
On the other hand, in the PC there also exists an omni-
directional bandgap [green slashed region in Fig. 3] rang-
ing from 2c 0.4086 to 2c 0.3682 (from
1470 to 1630 nm in wavelength), in which the incident
light from any direction is forbidden. This is the reason
light beams ranging from 1470 to 1630 nm [Fig. 1(b),
green-slashed region] always show a transmittance of
around zero from both the forward and backward
Experimentally, we fabricated a series of such
composite grating-PC structures to verify the one-way
transmission. The structure patterns are firstly defined
in the photoresist covered on the top layer of the silicon-
on-insulator (SOI) by using electron-beam lithography
(EBL). The patterns in the photoresist are then etched
into the silicon layer using the inductively coupled
plasma reactive-ion etching (ICP) technique. Figure 3(a)
presents the scanning electron microscopy (SEM) image
of the fabricated grating-PC structure. The inset shows
the enlarged view of the structure. The distance d be-
tween the grating and the PC is changed from 93 to
220 nm (93, 108, 130, 150, 170, 186, 210, and 220 nm).
We use near-field scanning optical microscopy (Multi-
view 2000, Nanonics Imaging LTD., Israel) to measure the
transmission spectra of the composite structure. The il-
lumination light is a TM-polarized light beam from a tun-
able infrared laser (8164A/B, Agilent, USA). The light is
coupled into the grating-PC structure by a lens. Each re-
sult is obtained by averaging measurements over three
times. Because of the limit of the tunable wavelength
range of the laser system, we only measured the transmit-
tance of light ranging from 1355 to 1375 nm (within the
directional bandgap of the PC, see Fig. 2, gray region)
and 1470 to 1500 nm (full bandgap, Fig. 2, green slashed
Fig. 1. (a) Schematic geometry of the composite grating-PC
structure. (b) Simulated transmission spectra of a TM-polarized
light in the forward (red solid line) and backward (blue dashed
line) directions, respectively. The gray and green slashed re-
gions denote the one-way transmission and full bandgap
regions, respectively. (c), (d) Calculated electric-field distribu-
tions of light at 1360 nm [see arrow in (b)] in the forward and
backward directions, respectively. Blue arrowed lines indicate
the direction of the incident light.
Fig. 2. Calculated TM-mode band structure of PC. The gray-
and green-slashed regions denote the directional bandgap
and a full bandgap, respectively.
Fig. 3. (a) SEM image of the fabricated grating-PC structure.
Inset, an enlarged view. (b) Simulated (forward: red solid line
and backward: blue dashed line) and measured transmission
spectra (forward: red circle, solid line and backward: blue x
dashed line) of light ranging from 1355 to 1375 nm. Inset, simu-
lated (forward: red solid line and backward: blue dashed line)
and measured (forward: red circle, solid line and backward:
blue x dashed line) transmittance spectra of light ranging from
1470 to 1500 nm. (c) Measured one-way contrast-ratio depend-
ence on the distances between grating and PC. The wavelength
of the incident light is at 1360 nm (red square, dotted line),
1370 nm (blue circle, dashed line), and 1375 nm (green asterisk,
dashed line), respectively.
August 15, 2014 / Vol. 39, No. 16 / OPTICS LETTERS 4935
region). Figure 3(b) shows the measured transmission
spectra of light incident into the composite structure with
d 93 nm in the forward (red circle, solid line) and
backward directions (blue x dashed line). For compari-
son, the simulated transmission of light beam from the
forward (red solid line) and backward directions (blue
dashed line) are also presented in the figure. We see that,
at wavelength 1360 nm, nearly 75% of the incident light is
passed through the grating-PC structure in the forward
direction, while only around 1% of the light can transmit
the structure as it is incident in the backward direction,
indicating that the light can propagate through the struc-
ture in one incident direction, but will be reflected in the
opposite direction. The difference between the experi-
mental measurement and numerical simulation [95%
transmittance of light in the forward direction; see
Fig. 1(b)] can be attributed to the fact that a part of
the incident light is leaked out from the structure surface
in experiments.
We also measured the transmission spectra of the in-
cident light ranging from 1470 to 1500 nm (within the full
bandgap of the PC) [see inset of Fig. 3(b)]. We can see
that it does not matter whether the illumination is in
the forward or backward directions, the transmittance
of the light is no more than 2%, indicating that the light
shows no one-way transmission but instead is completely
forbidden by the composite structure in both forward
and backward directions.
We also investigate the effect of distance d between
grating and PC on the one-way transmission. We intro-
duce a one-way contrast ratio C
as C

[25], where T
and T
are the forward and
backward transmittances, respectively. Figure 3(c)
shows the C
dependence on d as the incident light is
set at three wavelengths. We can see from the figure that
the one-way contrast ratio shows little dependence on
the distance between grating and PC when the incident
light is at different wavelengths. For example, as the in-
cident light is at 1360 nm, the C
is around 0.73 and 0.75
as d 170 nm and 93 nm, respectively (red square,
dotted line). From this, we can conclude that the
present composite grating-PC structure shows good
properties in one-way transmission as the distance be-
tween grating and PC is changed within a certain value
of ranges.
On the other hand, when the thickness of grating is
changed, it mainly influences the transmittance of the
unidirectional transmission of the structure. This is be-
cause the thickness of gratings will, in general, affect
the diffraction efficiency of light, so as to change the in-
tensity of light incident into the PC. While the grating con-
stant is changed, it will change the direction and
diffraction efficiency of illumination light incident into
the PC. If it makes the wave vector of light into the
PC still fall in the stopband of the PC after diffracted
by the grating, the structure will show no unidirectional
propagation. Otherwise, unidirectional transmission ap-
pears. Our calculations (not shown here) reveal that,
although some grating constants still make the one-
way transmission of structure work, it may reduce the
transmittance of the structure. This means that the
grating constant may affect both the function of
unidirectional transmission and the transmittance of
grating-PC structures.
When the light source is tilted, it may fall into the pass-
band of the PC. Hence, even when there is no grating in
front of the PC, light may pass through the structure no
matter what (forward or backward) direction of light is
incident, indicating that one-way transmission phenome-
non will disappear. In the case of grating being present,
tilted illumination will affect the contrast ratio of one-
way transmission and even destroy the unidirectional
transmission, because it will modulate the direction of
light incident into the PC. This is in principle similar
to the case where grating constant in front of PC is
In conclusion, we have demonstrated both numerically
and experimentally a simple and compact grating-PC
structure for wideband and high-contrast asymmetric
optical transmission. Such a unidirectional optical trans-
portation property originates from the role the grating
played in changing the direction of light incident into
the PC from the pseudobandgap to the passbands of
the PC. The present structure may provide another more
effective way for designing on-chip optical diode-like
integrated devices.
This work was supported by 973 Program
(2011CB933600) and National Natural Science Founda-
tion of China (Grant 11274247).
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