Fabrication tolerant chalcogenide mid-infrared multimode interference coupler design with applications for Bracewell nulling interferometry

Harry-Dean Kenchington Goldsmith, Nick Cvetojevic, Michael Ireland, Stephen Madden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Understanding exoplanet formation and finding potentially habitable exoplanets is vital to an enhanced understanding of the universe. The use of nulling interferometry to strongly attenuate the central star's light provides the opportunity to see objects closer to the star than ever before. Given that exoplanets are usually warm, the 4 μm Mid-Infrared region is advantageous for such observations. The key performance parameters for a nulling interferometer are the extinction ratio it can attain and how well that is maintained across the operational bandwidth. Both parameters depend on the design and fabrication accuracy of the subcomponents and their wavelength dependence. Via detailed simulation it is shown in this paper that a planar chalcogenide photonic chip, consisting of three highly fabrication tolerant multimode interference couplers, can exceed an extinction ratio of 60 dB in double nulling operation and up to 40 dB for a single nulling operation across a wavelength window of 3.9 to 4.2 μm. This provides a beam combiner with sufficient performance, in theory, to image exoplanets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3038-3051
Number of pages14
JournalOptics Express
Volume25
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes

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