Free-Standing Nanomechanical and Nanophotonic Structures in Single-Crystal Diamond
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CitationBurek, Michael John. 2016. Free-Standing Nanomechanical and Nanophotonic Structures in Single-Crystal Diamond. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractRealizing complex three-dimensional structures in a range of material systems is critical to a variety of emerging nanotechnologies. This is particularly true of nanomechanical and nanophotonic systems, both relying on free-standing small-scale components. In the case of nanomechanics, necessary mechanical degrees of freedom require physically isolated structures, such as suspended beams, cantilevers, and membranes. For nanophotonics, elements like waveguides and photonic crystal cavities rely on light confinement provided by total internal reflection or distributed Bragg reflection, both of which require refractive index contrast between the device and surrounding medium (often air). Such suspended nanostructures are typically fabricated in a heterolayer structure, comprising of device (top) and sacrificial (middle) layers supported by a substrate (bottom), using standard surface nanomachining techniques. A selective, isotropic etch is then used to remove the sacrificial layer, resulting in free-standing devices. While high-quality, crystalline, thin film heterolayer structures are readily available for silicon (as silicon-on-insulator (SOI)) or III-V semiconductors (i.e. GaAs/AlGaAs), there remains an extensive list of materials with attractive electro-optic, piezoelectric, quantum optical, and other properties for which high quality single-crystal thin film heterolayer structures are not available. These include complex metal oxides like lithium niobate (LiNbO3), silicon-based compounds such as silicon carbide (SiC), III-V nitrides including gallium nitride (GaN), and inert single-crystals such as diamond.
Diamond is especially attractive for a variety of nanoscale technologies due to its exceptional physical and chemical properties, including high mechanical hardness, stiffness, and thermal conductivity. Optically, it is transparent over a wide wavelength range (from 220 nm to the far infrared), has a high refractive index (n ~ 2.4), and is host to a vast inventory of luminescent defect centers (many with direct optical access to highly coherent electron and nuclear spins). Diamond has many potential applications ranging from radio frequency nanoelectromechanical systems (RF-NEMS), to all-optical signal processing and quantum optics. Despite the commercial availability of wafer-scale nanocrystalline diamond thin films on foreign substrates (namely SiO2), this diamond-on-insulator (DOI) platform typically exhibits inferior material properties due to friction, scattering, and absorption losses at grain boundaries, significant surface roughness, and large interfacial stresses. In the absence of suitable heteroepitaxial diamond growth, substantial research and development efforts have focused on novel processing techniques to yield nanoscale single-crystal diamond mechanical and optical elements.
In this thesis, we demonstrate a scalable ‘angled-etching’ nanofabrication method for realizing nanomechanical systems and nanophotonic networks starting from bulk single-crystal diamond substrates. Angled-etching employs anisotropic oxygen-based plasma etching at an oblique angle to the substrate surface, resulting in suspended optical structures with triangular cross-sections. Using this approach, we first realize single-crystal diamond nanomechanical resonant structures. These nanoscale diamond resonators exhibit high mechanical quality-factors (approaching Q ~ 10^5) with mechanical resonances up to 10 MHz.
Next, we demonstrate engineered nanophotonic structures, specifically racetrack resonators and photonic crystal cavities, in bulk single-crystal diamond. Our devices feature large optical Q-factors, in excess of 10^5, and operate over a wide wavelength range, spanning visible and telecom. These newly developed high-Q diamond optical nanocavities open the door for a wealth of applications, ranging from nonlinear optics and chemical sensing, to quantum information processing and cavity optomechanics. Beyond isolated nanophotonic devices, we also developed free-standing angled-etched diamond waveguides which efficiently route photons between optical nanocavities, realizing true on-chip diamond nanophotonic networks. A high efficiency fiber-optical interface with aforementioned on-chip diamond nanophotonic networks, achieving > 90% power coupling, is also demonstrated.
Lastly, we demonstrate a cavity-optomechanical system in single-crystal diamond, which builds upon previously realized diamond nanobeam photonic crystal cavities fabricated by angled-etching. Specifically, we demonstrate diamond optomechanical crystals (OMCs), where the engineered co-localization of photons and phonons in a quasi-periodic diamond nanostructure leads to coupling of an optical cavity field to a mechanical mode via the radiation pressure of light. In contrast to other material systems, diamond OMCs possess large intracavity photon capacity and sufficient optomechanical coupling rates to exceed a cooperativity of ~ 1 at room temperature and realize large amplitude optomechanical self-oscillations.
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