We describe the fabrication and characterization of omnidirectional reflectors based on silver-doped chalcogenide glass and polymer. We deposited periodically alternating layers of thermally evaporated Ge33As12Se55 chalcogenide glass, sputtered silver, and spun-cast polyamide-imide polymer. The silver was subsequently dissolved into each adjacent chalcogenide glass layer, either by exposing the multilayer to visible light (photodoping) or by heating the sample. The resultant silver concentration within the chalcogenide glass layers is estimated to be ~20 at. %. Silver doping red-shifts the band edge of the glass, and produces an increase of ~0.3–0.4 in the refractive index. The glass retains good transparency in the near infrared after doping, and the technique enables the omnidirectional bandwidth to be increased from ~100 nm to ~200 nm in the 1550 nm wavelength region.
©2006 Optical Society of America
Mirrors and filters based on alternating dielectric layers (thin film stacks) have been used in optics for many decades, because they can be designed to reflect combinations of incident wavelength, polarization, and angular range with nearly zero loss. In recent years, it was discovered [1–3] that appropriately designed stacks exhibit omnidirectional reflection (near unity reflectance for all incidence angles and polarization states) within one or more bands of wavelength. In the simplest case, the stack is periodic and comprises a pair of alternating dielectric materials. Assume that nH,dH, and nL,dL are the refractive index and thickness of the high and low index layers, respectively, Λ=dL+dH is the period of the stack, and n0 is the refractive index of the incident medium (often air). As extensively discussed in the literature [1–6], the existence of an omnidirectional band requires that both δn0=nL/n0 and δn1=nH/nL are relatively large. When these two parameters exceed some minimum threshold, the Brewster line lies outside the acceptance angle for light rays incident on the mirror from the external medium, and there are finite ranges of wavelength for which no propagating modes exist inside the dielectric stack. A common design goal is to maximize the omnidirectional bandwidth, either because the application inherently requires broadband reflection  or in order to relax the fabrication tolerance for narrowband applications [8–11]. As with conventional Bragg reflectors, both the omnidirectional bandwidth and the peak reflectivity (in the case of a finite number of layers) scale with δn1. For experimentalists, a key challenge is the identification of thermo-mechanically compatible materials with maximum index contrast. Given a pair of materials, another parameter of interest is the so-called filling factor η=dH/Λ. Nearly optimal characteristics are provided by the quarter wave stack design, for which η=ηq=1/(1+δn1). However, choosing η slightly greater than ηq can result in typically modest improvement in terms of the omnidirectional bandwidth [1–6] and peak reflectivity .
Recently, we reported  omnidirectional reflectors centered at 1750 nm based on alternating layers of Ge33As12Se55 chalcogenide glass and polyamide-imide (PAI) polymer. The attributes of these mirrors include low-temperature processing (<300°C), the use of commercially available materials, and fabrication on a silicon substrate. The materials provide excellent thermo-mechanical compatibility, evidenced by good planarity and good mechanical integrity over a wide temperature range. Further, the combination is characterized by δn1~1.55 and δn0~1.65 (assuming air incidence), which enables a relative omnidirectional bandwidth (Δω/ω0) on the order of 6–7 % . Here, we report a technique for increasing the index contrast through silver doping of the Ge33As12Se55 layers, resulting in δn1~1.8 and a doubling of the omnidirectional bandwidth. We compare silver-containing and silver-free mirrors with omnidirectional reflection bands centered near 1550 nm wavelength.
2. Background and fabrication
Metal doping of chalcogenide glasses is a widely studied technique and review articles are available [14–15]. In brief, when deposited in contact with many (perhaps all) chalcogenide glass alloys, certain metals (such as copper, zinc, and especially silver) can be induced to diffuse into the glass under exposure to near bandgap light  (this is commonly termed photodoping), ion beams , electron beams , or upon heating . Up to some maximum concentration, the metal atoms are incorporated into the glass network and the silver-containing alloy retains the usual characteristics of a homogeneous glass (although with modified optical, chemical, thermal, and mechanical properties). The metal infusion tends to shift the glass bandgap towards lower energy [14–15] and increase the linear  and nonlinear  refractive indices of the glass. The linear refractive index increase can be as high as ~0.5 at wavelengths much longer than the shifted band edge, where the silver-containing glass retains good transparency. Silver doping of chalcogenide glasses has been studied as a means to realize inorganic resists , infrared diffraction elements [23–24], microlenses , and integrated waveguides [19, 26–27]. Finally, photodoped chalcogenide glasses exhibit reduced tendency for photo-oxidation and photodarkening , and therefore have improved stability.
The chalcogenide glass Ge33As12Se55 was sourced as IG2 from Vitron AG (France) and the polyamide-imide (PAI) polymer, TORLON AI-10, was sourced from Solvay Advanced Polymers. The processing of these films was as described previously , except for some variation in the curing of the PAI layers. 99.99% pure silver was sourced from Kurt J. Lesker Company (Clairton, Pennsylvania). Layers of silver were deposited using a magnetron sputter system (Kurt J. Lesker Company) equipped with a substrate rotation system.
Two prime grade silicon wafers (Silicon Valley Microelectronics) were cleaned in a piranha solution, rinsed in de-ionized (DI) water, and dried in nitrogen. The first sample (sample A), was processed as described in , but with slightly reduced period in order to shift the omnidirectional band to shorter wavelength. 13 layers (7 PAI layers and 6 IG2 layers) were deposited on sample A, producing a 6.5 period Bragg reflector. The PAI layers were approximately 285–290 nm thick and were cured at a peak temperature of 200°C in nitrogen after each spin. With our current process, we get inconsistent results when attempting to spin PAI layers thinner than ~285 nm. Given this restriction, the IG2 layer thickness was used as an adjustable parameter to target an omnidirectional stop band centered near 1550 nm. For sample A the IG2 layer thickness was set to ~150 nm.
Sample B was processed in the same way as sample A, except that the IG2 layer thickness was set to ~125 nm and ~20 nm of silver was sputtered after each IG2 deposition. Further, a PAI layer was spun-cast and cured after each silver deposition. We note that adhesion to a variety of materials including metals is one of the attributes of PAI . In total, 16 layers were deposited on sample B (6 PAI layers, 5 IG2 layers, and 5 silver layers). We have processed numerous samples of this type, with some variation in the final cure temperature of the PAI layers. As shown in Fig. 1, the silver layers are dissolved into each adjacent glass layer, either during the curing of the subsequent PAI layers at high temperature (~200°C) or upon light exposure if the PAI is cured at lower temperature (~100°C). Light exposure was provided by a Cambridge Instruments fiber-optic illuminator (cat. no. 31-30-50) with output spectrum centered in the 450 nm – 750 nm range. Intensity at the sample was approximately 0.1 W/cm2 as measured using a silicon detector through a pinhole. For all silver-containing samples (regardless of PAI cure temperature) the optical characteristics reached a saturated state for exposure times of a few hours, apparently indicating complete dissolution of the silver. It should be noted that some silver is expected to diffuse into the glass during the high energy sputter deposition . After doping, sample B is essentially a 5.5 period Bragg reflector comprising two homogeneous dielectrics (PAI and silver-containing IG2 [Ag:IG2]). As evidenced by the optical characteristics discussed below, this process resulted in homogeneous doping of the IG2 glass layers. The estimated silver concentration (~20 at. %) is probably near the solubility limit for a Ge-As-Se glass . The thickness of these layers is expected to be approximately equal to the sum of the starting IG2 and Ag layer thicknesses , but its precise value depends on the way in which the Ag is incorporated into the glass network. Based on our experiments with IG2, we find the doped layer thickness is typically much less than the sum and in fact only slightly larger than the undoped IG2 layer thickness. It should be noted that the Ag layers are very thin and begin to diffuse into the glass even during deposition. This makes it impossible to verify their thickness directly on the samples being processed. For an estimate of silver thickness, microscope slides were placed in the system with the multilayer samples. The microscope slides were patterned with a liftoff technique, and layer thicknesses were measured using a contact profilometer (Tencor Alphastep 200).
Visual inspection of both samples reveals mirror quality surfaces, with only a few defect spots attributed to dust particles contaminating the sample surfaces during processing. Digital photographs taken at normal incidence are shown in Fig. 2. The silver-free sample has a distinctly red color, attributed to a narrow 3rd order stop band in the 650 nm wavelength region as discussed below. The silver-containing sample is green, attributed to a wider 3rd order stop band and higher absorption and reflection by the Ag:IG2 glass throughout the visible range.
The samples were cleaved and inspected by scanning electron microscopy (SEM); a typical SEM image of sample B is shown in Fig. 3(a). Both the silver-containing and silver-free samples exhibit good planarity, with nm scale surface roughness similar to the mirrors reported previously . Excellent adhesion is maintained between films and with the silicon substrate, even upon the thermal and mechanical shock of cleaving samples at liquid nitrogen temperatures. The PAI polymer used is a high performance plastic, known for its adhesive properties and retention of mechanical integrity across a wide range of temperature. We believe this is important for the work described here; underlying PAI layers do not soften and wrinkle (due to stresses arising from coefficient of thermal expansion [CTE] mismatches, etc.) when subsequent PAI layers are cured. On some samples (results not shown) we have cured the PAI layers at peak temperatures of ~300°C, with similar results to those described here. Layer thicknesses estimated from SEM were very close to the targeted values for sample A (~290 nm for PAI and ~150 nm for IG2). For sample B, the Ag:IG2 layers were estimated to be ~130 nm thick. These values were used in the simulations below, producing good agreement between the experimental and simulated spectra. Note that the first PAI layer in Fig. 3(a) appears thinner than the others. However, we were able to obtain much better fits to the experimental spectra by assuming all PAI layers are 290 nm thick. It is possible that the bottom PAI layer stretched on cleaving  and only appears thinner in the SEM images.
Optical characterization was conducted in both transmission and reflection, and compared with simulation. Transmission scans were measured at normal incidence using a Perkin-Elmer Lambda-900 UV-Vis-NIR dual beam spectrophotometer. Normalized data is shown in Figs. 3 (b) and (c). Since the substrates are single-side polished silicon, transmittance data is restricted to the wavelength region above ~1100 nm and is affected by scattering at the rough back surface. The spectral shape, including the position and width of the normal incidence stop band, is nevertheless apparent. We stress that the absolute transmittance level (~10% at the peaks) was very similar for both samples. This indicates that the Ag doping of the IG2 layers does not significantly increase their absorbance in the wavelength region below the shifted band edge, in agreement with the literature . Normal incidence spectral stop bands lie between ~1535 nm and ~1950 nm for the silver-free sample, and ~1475 nm and ~2000 nm for the silver-containing sample. Simulations were performed using a standard transfer matrix method, and for simplicity absorption (by both the layers and the substrate) was neglected. The dispersion curves used for IG2 glass and PAI polymer were given in reference . For simulations of the Ag:IG2 layers, a wavelength-independent increase of the refractive index (Δn) was assumed for simplicity (ie. nsilver-containing(λ)=nsilver-free(λ)+Δn). This approximation does not account for the fact (predicted by Kramers-Kronig relations) that the index increase is largest near the red-shifted band edge, and monotonically decreases for increasing wavelength . Nevertheless, very good agreement between simulated and experimental spectra was possible using this simplified approximation. For the transmittance scan [Fig. 3(c)], the best fit to the data in the 1200 to 2500 nm range was obtained using Δn~0.33.
Reflection scans were obtained for various incidence angles (20, 34, 48, 62, 76 degrees) and both polarization states (TE, TM) using a variable angle spectroscopic ellipsometer (VASE) instrument (J.A. Woollam Co. VB-250 Ellipsometer Control Module coupled with HS-190 High Speed Monochromator System). This instrument can collect spectral data between 300 nm and 1700nm, with the exception of the window between 1350 nm and 1450 nm. Experimental and simulated curves for sample A are shown in 4(a) and for sample B in Fig. 4(b). Excellent agreement is evident in both cases, except below ~700 nm where the mismatch can be attributed to the neglect of absorption in the simulations. The best fit to the experimental reflection data in Fig. 4(b) was obtained using Δn~0.40. This is slightly larger than the Δn used to fit the transmission scans above, probably because the transmittance data is centered at longer wavelengths. In any case, an index increase of 0.3–0.4 for the atomic silver concentration estimated here (~20 %) is in line with other reports [14–16 ].
A first-order omnidirectional stop band was confirmed for both samples. For sample A, the omnidirectional bandwidth is ~100 nm (~1535 to 1635 nm). For sample B, silver doping increases the omnidirectional bandwidth to ~ 200 nm (~1475 to 1675 nm). These results are in good agreement with theoretical predictions . Sample A has δn0~1.65 and δn1~1.55, and the omnidirectional bandwidth (for optimized filling factor) centered at 1550 nm is predicted to be ~120 nm. Sample B has δn0~1.65 and δn1~1.76, resulting in an optimized omnidirectional bandwidth of ~250 nm at 1550 nm. Note that because of the restriction on PAI thickness mentioned above, neither structure has an optimal filling factor. For sample A, η=0.34, ηq=0.39 and the optimal filling factor is η0.45 . Similarly, for sample B, η=0.31, ηq=0.36 and the optimal filling factor is η0.40. This suggests that there is room for improvement, assuming a process to spin thinner polymer layers can be developed.
A third order stop band is predicted and was partially verified in some of the reflectance scans of Fig. 4. The silver-free sample A exhibits a peak at η625 nm for 20 degrees incidence angle, in good agreement with simulation. The predicted 3rd order stop band is relatively suppressed for sample B, likely due to the increased absorption in the visible region produced by photodoping. These spectral features lead to the coloring of the mirrors seen in Fig. 2.
Finally, we note that such close agreement between experimental and simulated spectra over such a wide range of wavelength and incidence angle is only possible for a structure that exhibits excellent layer uniformity, homogeneity, and planarity. This supports our earlier statement regarding the good thermo-mechanical compatibility of the materials used.
4. Summary and Conclusions
We have demonstrated that the silver doping technique in chalcogenide glasses can be used to increase the omnidirectional stop band of multilayer reflectors based on chalcogenide glass and polymer. These mirrors have the attributes of low-temperature processing, fabrication on a silicon platform, good planarity, and excellent thermal and mechanical stability. The broadened omnidirectional stop band (~1475 nm to 1675 nm) covers much of the spectrum used for fiber optic communications. These mirrors could prove to be useful in the construction of novel waveguides and cavities.
This work was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and TRLabs. We thank George Braybrook for capturing SEM images, and Ying Tsui and Rik Tykwinski for assistance and advice related to fabrication processes. The devices were fabricated at the Nanofab of the University of Alberta.
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