Chen, R., Fang, Z., Perez, C., Miller, F., Kumari, K., Saxena, A., Zheng, J., Geiger, S. J., Goodson, K. E., Majumdar, A. “Non-volatile electrically programmable integrated photonics with 5-bit operation.” Nature Communications 14.1 (2023): 3465.
Scalable programmable photonic integrated circuits (PICs) can potentially transform the current state of classical and quantum optical information processing. However, traditional means of programming, including thermo-optic, free carrier dispersion, and Pockels effect result in either large device footprints or high static energy consumptions, significantly limiting their scalability. While chalcogenide-based non-volatile phase-change materials (PCMs) could mitigate these problems thanks to their strong index modulation and zero static power consumption, they often suffer from large absorptive loss, low cyclability, and lack of multilevel operation. Here, we report a wide-bandgap PCM antimony sulfide (Sb2S3)-clad silicon photonic platform simultaneously achieving low loss (<1.0 dB), high extinction ratio (>10 dB), high cyclability (>1600 switching events), and 5-bit operation. These Sb2S3-based devices are programmed via on-chip silicon PIN diode heaters within sub-ms timescale, with a programming energy density of ∼10fJ/nm^3. Remarkably, Sb2S3 is programmed into fine intermediate states by applying multiple identical pulses, providing controllable multilevel operations. Through dynamic pulse control, we achieve 5-bit (32 levels) operations, rendering 0.50 ± 0.16 dB per step. Using this multilevel behavior, we further trim random phase error in a balanced Mach-Zehnder interferometer.