Abstract

The optical circulator is a fundamental building block of photonic systems, due to its ability to route signals entering the device at various ports, as well as provide optical isolation. Fundamentally, the ideal optical circulator is a compact, polarization-independent device that provides high isolation ratios and low insertion losses over a broad bandwidth. Many designs have attempted to satisfy this demanding set of criteria; however, none have succeeded in fulfilling them all simultaneously. In this work, we present the design and theoretical characterization of a truly versatile nanophotonic optical circulator. By integrating three waveguide architectures, we are able to effectively demonstrate the three key components of the optical circulator. Notably, silicon photonic waveguides provide the basis for a 3 dB power splitter/combiner, while a silicon-based L-slot waveguide half-wave plate provides reciprocal polarization rotation, and a cerium-substituted yttrium iron garnet Faraday rotator provides the nonreciprocal polarization rotation. With this scheme, our simulations show an efficient nanophotonic circulator with a compact length of 173.75 μm that is capable of providing isolation ratios between 17.8 and 22.5 dB and insertion losses less than 2.7 dB for either transverse-electric- or transverse-magnetic-mode input. Thus, such a device can be crucial in the emerging nanophotonic optical networks and on-chip optical computing platforms.

© 2018 Optical Society of America

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