Investigation of optical loss changes in siloxane polymer waveguides during thermal curing and aging
Hegde, Shashikant G.
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In high performance electronic systems, with increasing chip speed and larger number of processors, the system performance is being limited by off-chip metal interconnects. In such systems, polymer optical waveguides are being considered to replace electrical interconnects because of their high capacity for bandwidth and less constraints on interconnect length. The optical loss in the polymer optical waveguides is the key criterion used to evaluate their performance, and is significantly affected by thermal curing and aging. The evolution of degree-of-cure is determined from differential scanning calorimetry and compared to optical absorption from spectroscopy. Optical loss due to scattering mechanisms is related to local density fluctuations, which is studied using dielectric analysis. Based on the optical loss trends in uncladded and cladded waveguides, the underlying mechanisms for the optical loss variations are proposed and a cure process schedule to realize the lowest optical loss is recommended. Process-induced thermal stresses can also affect the polymer waveguide by introducing stress birefringence. The stress-optical coefficients of the siloxane polymer are extracted and employed in a numerical modeling method to determine the stress-induced birefringence in an optical waveguide system. The thermal-aging dependent optical loss is determined for waveguide samples at several different accelerated temperature conditions. To get the field-use conditions, the temperature distribution in the vicinity of the embedded laser and the polymer waveguide is determined. Using such thermal experimental data, the analytical reliability models were employed to relate the optical loss with time, and provide a practical way of determining whether the optical waveguides would perform within the optical loss budget during field-use conditions.