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Wavelength dispersion phenomena

observed for emitted optical radiation

from a p+nn+ silicon avalanche mode
light-emitting device in a radio
frequency bipolar-integrated circuitry

Timothy A. Okhai
Lukas W. Snyman
Jean-Luc Polleux

Timothy A. Okhai, Lukas W. Snyman, Jean-Luc Polleux, “Wavelength dispersion phenomena observed for
emitted optical radiation from a p+nn+ silicon avalanche mode light-emitting device in a radio
frequency bipolar-integrated circuitry,” Opt. Eng. 58(1), 017104 (2019),
doi: 10.1117/1.OE.58.1.017104.

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Optical Engineering 58(1), 017104 (January 2019)

Wavelength dispersion phenomena observed for emitted

optical radiation from a p+nn+ silicon avalanche mode
light-emitting device in a radio frequency
bipolar-integrated circuitry
Timothy A. Okhai,a,b Lukas W. Snyman,a,* and Jean-Luc Polleuxc
University of South Africa, Department of Electrical and Mining Engineering, Florida Campus, South Africa
Tshwane University of Technology, Department of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, Pretoria, South Africa
Universite Paris-Est, ESYCOM (EA2552), ESIEE, UPEM, Le Cnam, Noisy-Le-Grand, France

Abstract. A two-junction micro p+np+ silicon avalanche-mode light-emitting device (Si AMLED) is analyzed for
its dispersion characteristics, which generally resulted in different wavelengths of light (colors) being emitted at
different angles from the surface of the device. The SiAMLED is integrated into on-chip bipolar radio frequency-
integrated circuitry at micron dimensions. LEDs have high-frequency modulation frequencies reaching into the
GHz range. Such devices, which are of micron dimension, operate at 8 to 10 V, 1 μA to 2 mA.
The emission wavelength is in the 450- to 850-nm range, emission spot sizes are about 1 μm2 , and emission
intensities are up to 200 nW:μm−2 . The observed geometrical-chromatic dispersion characteristics range
from 0.01 deg ∕nm wavelength for green radiation at a 5 deg exit angle to the normal of the device to
0.16 deg ∕nm wavelength for blue radiation at a 60 deg exit angle to the normal of the surface of the device.
The high dispersion characteristics of the emitted radiation are attributed to the positioning of the optical source
∼1 μm subsurface to the silicon–silicon oxide interface, as well as to the high-refractive index differences
between silicon and the surrounding lower refractive index silicon oxide layers. It is believed that the identified
dispersion characteristics will have interesting and futuristic on-chip electro-optic applications for on-chip micro-
optical wavelength dispersers, futuristic optical communication demultiplexers, along with on-chip microgas and
biosensor applications. © 2019 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) [DOI: 10.1117/1.OE.58.1.017104]
Keywords: complementary metal oxide semiconductor-integrated circuit technology; light-emitting devices; optical communication;
sensors; silicon light-emitting devices; silicon photonics.
Paper 180767 received May 28, 2018; accepted for publication Dec. 11, 2018; published online Jan. 18, 2019.

1 Introduction In this paper, a two-junction microdimension p+−np+ Si

Recently, researchers successfully created silicon avalanche AM LED was analyzed for its radiation geometrical
mode light-emitting devices (SiAM LEDs), which can be dispersion characteristics, in terms of different wavelengths
realized in standard silicon-integrated circuitry, and began of light (colors) being emitted at different emission angles
proposing diverse applications for these in the future.1–7 from the surface of the device. The detail dispersion
The main advantage of these devices may be their ease of characteristics are thus thought to be a function of the device
integration into mainstream silicon-manufacturing technol- structure, the number of transparent over-layers (each with
ogy, such as complementary metal oxide semiconductor a different optical refractive index), and even the final topog-
(CMOS) and radio frequency (RF) bipolar technologies. raphy or curvature of the various surface layers.
In particular, the miniaturization and utilization of these
technologies in an RF-immune environment are attractive, 2 Light-Emission Characteristics from Si AMLEDs
as is the RF modulation of on-chip optical waveguides. It has been postulated that light-emission occurs from the
In recent research, light emission from silicon devices was SiAM LED structures through phonon-assisted intra- and
realized in various reverse-biased p–n avalanche structures, interband recombination phenomena.17–19 Kramer et al.20
before nomenclated silicon light-emitting diodes were real- and Snyman et al.21–25 have realized a series of practical
ized, which operate in a reverse avalanche mode (Si AM and utilizable Si LEDs in a standard CMOS technology,
LEDs).8–12 using surface and current density engineering techniques.
Various researchers believe that if the detailed dispersion Matjila and Snyman23 and Snyman et al.24 subsequently
characteristics (as observed per solid angle) for a particular realized devices that showed increased light emission when
device are known, which will enable the design of novel and additional carriers were injected into avalanching Si n+p
futuristic on-chip electro-optic applications, such as wave- light-emitting junctions. Xu et al.8 and Du Plessis et al.25 sub-
length multiplexers for on-chip communications as well as sequently realized a series of in-CMOS-integrated LED
diverse futuristic on-chip micro- and nanodimensioned gas devices with third-terminal gated control. More recently,
and even bio sensors.13–16 Dutta et al.26 analyzed temperature, carrier density, and
electric field aspects, as encountered in Si LEDs operating in
*Address all correspondence to Lukas W. Snyman, E-mail:
.za 0091-3286/2019/$25.00 © 2019 SPIE

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Okhai, Snyman, and Polleux: Wavelength dispersion phenomena observed for emitted optical radiation. . .

Fig. 1 Device design (schematic), considerations of a p+nn+ Si avalanche mode LED in RF bipolar
integrated circuitry:30 (a) lateral cross-section of the device; (b) device optical performance character-
istics, as previously compared to other devices;30 (c) spectral characteristics of the emitted optical
radiation (for below 570 nm, consult22). Inserts show the optical emission micrographs of the LEDs
taken at normal angles to the surface of the device. (d) Insert showing an emission spectra of similar
device over an extended range showing the 450-nm emission (2.8 eV) peak.

an avalanche mode. The same groups also suggest that the Ogudo et al.29 recently realized first-iteration chip-optical
operation of gated Si LEDs would occur in the forward bias links, where optical pulses were transmitted up to 10 GHz
mode and emit in the 1000-nm region.27 over distances of 50 μm using on-chip waveguide technol-
Particularly, because of the reverse bias configuration of ogy. An RF bipolar process was used in that instance.
Si Av Mod LEDs, the devices offer an inherent high-modu- Major progress has recently been made in increasing
lation speed ranging into the GHz range—a major advantage emission intensities from SiAMLED in the 650- to 750-nm
associated with these devices.28–30 Also, these types of emission regime, judging from the work of Xu and Snyman
devices show great potential to be integrated into futuristic et al.,30,31 where, for the first time, evidence was found that
CMOS-based optical interconnected, hybrid-optical RF enhanced emission can be obtained from Si CMOS-based
systems, and on-chip microphotonic systems. LEDs by using enhanced impurity scattering and extended

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Okhai, Snyman, and Polleux: Wavelength dispersion phenomena observed for emitted optical radiation. . .

E-field profiling in the device. The emission intensities 3 Experimental Procedures Used in this Study
ranged from 0.1 to about 200 nW∕μm2 . As a departure point, the device’s surface layers were inves-
In the present study, a specific p+np+ graded junction tigated using a high-resolution optical microscope (Leica
type Si AMLED device was used (see Fig. 1), realized in DMi8) with submicron resolution capability. The investiga-
a 0.35-μm Si bipolar process with a high-frequency RF appli- tion clearly showed the pedestal design of the active regions
cation capability. This process enabled “elongated pillar” of the device (light gray), the exposed simulating substrate
structures to be etched out on a broad silicon semi-insulating after etching (dark gray), as well as the surface dioxide layers
p-substrate. These structures could hence effectively confine and metal contact layers (see Fig. 2). The elevation of doping
the lateral carrier diffusion and maximize the diffusing car- pedestal layers on the substrate was measured at about 1 μm;
rier density in the device. The device used n+ and p+ regions the thickness of the remaining oxide layer after surface pas-
in the substrate of the silicon, positioned at a distance 1 μm sivation layer etching was about 5 μm (measured by means
apart from each other. Subsequently, up to 1-μm graded of high-resolution imaging and three-dimensional profiling
doping profiles were formed at the edges of these regions, at different depths of imaging, using the profiling capability
whereas overlapping of dopants occurred in the center region offered by the Leica DMi8). The silicon nitride passivation
of the device.30 For illustrative purposes, the device design layer over the active Si Av Mod LED was very transparent.
and performance characteristics applicable to previous real- The thickness of the various surface layers was compared
izations are again presented here. with the initial design considerations and the foundry process
The optical emissions emitted from the device were mea- specifications. These were determined as follows:
sured with an Anritso MS9710B Spectrum Analyzer with
a lensed-probe optical fiber. The device and the lensed probe Subsurface p+ silicon doping depth: 1.5 μm,
were electronically micromanipulated to within 0.1 mm of Silicon oxide surface layers with no metallization layers:
the LED. The total emission intensities, with cross-sectional 4 μm, and
conduction areas of about 1 μm2 , indicated intensities at Surface passivation layer thickness with silicon nitride:
the surface of the device of the order of 200 nW∕μm2 . 0.5 μm.
Figures 1(c) and 1(d) show the main spectral components,
as observed for this type of device (as measured for several Figure 2 shows a schematic representation of the exper-
devices). Clear peaks and prominent peaks of 2.8, 2.3, 1.8, imental setup used to record the subsequent dispersion char-
and 1.5 eV were observed in the spectrographic measure- acteristics of the light emitted from the integrated SiAMLED
ments for the devices, as shown in the spectrum when con- used in this study. The emission from the LED was observed
verting the nm emissions to corresponding eV emissions.22,30 with a long working-distance (∼1.5 cm) optical stereo
Overall, the spectrum represented a broad spectrum from microscope (Olympus DZM-2). A small aperture, 1.5 cm
450 to about 850 nm, with main characteristic peaks at in diameter, was used in the back plane of the objective
450 nm (2.8 eV) (blueish), 550 nm (2 eV) (green), lenses. The chip and its mount were then tilted from the hori-
600 nm (2.3 eV) (reddish), and 750 to 850 nm (1.5 and zontal plane at an angle, α, while the emission characteristics
1.8 eV) (infrared). were recorded with a color CMOS camera (Moticam 2500,

Fig. 2 (a) High-resolution bright field micrograph of the Si Avalanche Mode LED analyses of the device
as performed with a high-resolution Leica DMI 8 optical microscope. An RF bipolar-integrated circuit
process was used to fabricate the device. Dark gray represents etched recesses down to the silicon
substrate, while-light gray represents 1.5-μm-thick epitaxial layer onto which vertical doping layers
were applied to create vertical pedestal device. Intermediate regions were filled with plasma-deposited
silicon oxide, planarized with sequential lapping. A silicon nitride layer of 0.5 μm was used as a passi-
vation cover layer. Particularly evident is the transparency of the over-layers as observed in the micro-
scope. (b) Schematic representation of the vertical cross section of the device showing the positioning of
the various structures as well as the positioning and nature of the transparent over-layers.

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Okhai, Snyman, and Polleux: Wavelength dispersion phenomena observed for emitted optical radiation. . .

5.0 MPixel USB 2.0: 2592 × 1944 pixels). The CMOS

surface area was 1 cm × 1 cm.
The total capture angle was 21 deg and the numerical
aperture of the objective lens was 0.36. The captured emis-
sion from the chip surface for the specific microscope used
was a solid angle, dΩ, of 0.15, capturing about 0.15 of all
half-spherical light emitted from the sample surface. The
particular microscope, with its specific settings, was hence
essentially used as a probe to investigate the dispersion char-
acteristics of the emitted light from the silicon device as
a function of radiation emission angle from the surface of
the device. High-resolution color images were taken at incre-
ment angles of 5 deg, 15 deg, 30 deg, 45 deg, and 60 deg, in
each case.
The captured images were subsequently analyzed as
a function of tilt angle. By measuring the respective red,
green, and blue color pixels per unit area of the image
and profiling these along the tilt direction in a particular
image, a good presentation could be obtained of the variation
in the emitted radiation angle in the direction of tilt.
The dispersion of the different wavelengths into different
angles exiting the surface resulted in shifts in the images in
the intermediate image plane, I, of the microscope, as sche-
matically shown in Fig. 3. The higher the refraction occur-
ring in the device overlayers at a particular wavelength, the
higher the shift in the color image (dispersion) on the inter-
mediate image plane. Two such cases, each for a different Fig. 3 Schematic representation of the experimental setup used to
propagation wavelength, are shown schematically in Fig. 3. record the dispersion characteristics of the light emitted from the inte-
grated SiAMLED. The emission from the LED was observed with a
The shorter propagation wavelength (dotted lines) experien- long working-distance, small-aperture Olympus DZM-2 stereo optical
ces higher refraction in the respective device interface microscope. The device was then tilted in a specific roll direction and
regions, and experiences higher exit angles from the device the dispersed color image detected in the intermediate image plane.
surface. These are then correspondingly transferred in the Each propagation wavelength (as example two cases are indicated
image plane of the microscope as a shift in color image. by solid and dotted, respectively) exits with different exit angles
from the sample, and caused shift in the intermediate image plane
A trivial method was used to determine the dispersion of per propagation wavelength (color). By measuring the shift, d Xi in the
the different wavelengths (colors) emitted from the device. intermediate image plane as derived from photomicrograph images,
The total magnification, M, of the image on the final digital the corresponding changes in object shift angles, d Θo and d Θi for
micrograph could be calculated using the separation distance the different propagation wavelengths (colors) could be derived.
of two optical sources, 4 μm apart on the chip (see Fig. 1).
Additional camera magnification (10×) and subsequent dig-
ital image magnification (5×) were implemented to analyze magnification at the intermediate plane, the active numerical
the images accurately at high magnification. aperture of the objective lens (0.36) and the equation for
All measured distances on the final photographic images the numerical aperture:
were subsequently related to the image shifts on the inter-
mediate image plane, I, as in Fig. 3, using the known mag- N:A:o ¼ n sin Θo ;
EQ-TARGET;temp:intralink-;e003;326;288 (3)
nification parameters and the image planes of the Olympus
DZM-2 microscope. where n ¼ 1 due to air, and Θo is the average half angle
The color shifts on the intermediate image plane were (for the dispersed wave for each specific color); and using
then converted to dΘi shifts in the intermediate image a derived ratio between dΘi and dΘo (from the applicable
plane, using the distance from the intermediate objective lens geometrical distances) (see Fig. 2).
(15 cm, according to microscope specifications), and then With this technique, some trivial values could be derived
deriving the effective object distance, o, of the optical source for dispersion or change in emission degree per primary
in front of the objective, through wavelength emitted from the device.
The experimental dispersion characteristics obtained
dΘi ¼ tan−1 ðx 0shift on intermediate plane∕ðo þ iÞ;
EQ-TARGET;temp:intralink-;e001;63;181 (1) were then compared with anticipated theoretically derived
dispersion analyses using the device, the known device
and design dimensions and specifics, and a specially developed
o ¼ M 0 ∕i;
EQ-TARGET;temp:intralink-;e002;63;138 (2) EXCEL ray tracing tool. In this tool, arbitrary initial propa-
gation directions were chosen as emitted by the optical
where M 0 is the magnification at the intermediate image source, and the change in propagation direction determined
plane, I. as each ray propagate through the different layers as a func-
These shifts could subsequently be converted to dXi tion of known refractive index values and layer dimensions.
shifts falling onto the objective, using the derived total An example of such an analysis is shown in Sec. 9.

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Okhai, Snyman, and Polleux: Wavelength dispersion phenomena observed for emitted optical radiation. . .

From these comparisons, it was anticipated that important sample. Figure 4 shows clear enlarged representations of
information would be derived about the dispersion mecha- the dispersion as observed for 5 deg, 15 deg, and 30 deg
nisms occurring in the device. We also hoped to obtain tilt angles, and Fig. 5 shows a representation of the wider
more information on the exact position of the optical source. dispersion phenomena as observed at the larger tilt (radiation
exit) angles of 45 deg and 60 deg. Intensity profiles were
4 Experimental Observed Dispersion taken of the pixels through each profile using MATLAB
Characteristics of the Emitted Optical Radiation image analyses. The shift in color peaks was measured in
Figures 4 and 5 show an overview of the dispersion phenom- centimeter in the final digitally magnified images in each
ena of the emitted color wavelengths, as observed in the final case. The results, as shown, are representative of five sepa-
microscope images as a function of device tilt angle of the rate analyses from the same device.

Fig. 4 Observed experimental dispersion characteristics (color shifts per propagation wavelength) for
the emitted radiation from the device for smaller tilt angles of the sample. Micrographs were taken at
the indicated slanted angles of the device, and corresponding line profiles of color pixel distributions
were taken in the direction of tilt of the sample. The micrographs show the clear dispersion of emitted
colors increasing with the tilt angle.

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Okhai, Snyman, and Polleux: Wavelength dispersion phenomena observed for emitted optical radiation. . .

Fig. 5 Observed experimental dispersion characteristics (color shifts per propagation wavelength) for
the emitted radiation from the device for larger tilt angles of the device.

A clear, narrow dispersion in color wavelengths from red experimentally observed results. This was performed with
to yellow to green, with faint tints of blue on the left-hand a self-developed ray-tracing analysis Microsoft Excel tool.
sides, was observed for the smaller tilt angles. The yellow The analysis used the specific position of the optical source
wavelength in the dispersion images was considered to be in the structure, choosing a specific wavelength of propaga-
due to overlaps of the green and red radiation. Due to the tion, then the specific propagation direction, before calculat-
limited solid angle of observation, the blue radiation peaks ing the refraction phenomena as they presented at each
were completely captured at low tilt angles but only partially interface in the structure where a change of optical refractive
in high tilt angles. The blue emissions were very low in inten- index occurred. For an example of the software and pro-
sity, and barely visible in the naked images. cedure used, see Appendix.
It is evident that the emitted radiation primarily contained As a first analysis, the optical propagation mechanisms
high intensities of red and green light at the angles investi- were modeled using a series of calculations and assuming
gated. Color shifts of 0.25 cm were observed for green a position of the optical source, sitting at the silicon–silicon
radiation relative to red at 5-deg tilt, and shifts of 0.5 cm oxide interface (Fig. 2). The initial launch direction of par-
were observed for tilt angles of 15 deg, 0.75 cm at 30 deg. ticular optical rays (wave fronts) was fixed, and then, using
Hence there was a clear increase in the dispersion of Snell’s law for refraction [as in Eq. (4)], subsequent ray
the emitted wavelengths with a concomitant increase in propagation directions and angles were derived:
tilt angle.
At the higher tilt angle of 45 deg exit angle as shown in n1 sin Θ1 ¼ n2 sin Θ2 ;
EQ-TARGET;temp:intralink-;e004;326;208 (4)
Fig. 5, color shifts of about 1 cm were observed. At a 60-deg
angle, the dispersion was very wide, with a broad over- where n1 is the refractive index at the launch site, n2 is the
lapping of the primary colors. refractive index in the subsequent optical layer, Θ1 is the ini-
tial launch angle at the optical source position, and Θ2 is the
5 Modeling Dispersion Mechanisms and new refracted light propagation direction in the successive
Determination of the Position of the Optical layer.
Source Similarly, estimates of the anticipated intensity variation
We decided to model the emission characteristics theoreti- along the direction of propagation directions could be
cally in the structure according to known optical refraction derived through Eq. (5):
and absorption phenomena, using the specific device
structure and dimensions, and then compare it with the I ¼ I o expð−α dÞ;
EQ-TARGET;temp:intralink-;e005;326;93 (5)

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Okhai, Snyman, and Polleux: Wavelength dispersion phenomena observed for emitted optical radiation. . .

Fig. 6 (a) Modeling and ray tracing of the optical refraction phenomenon in a silicon RF bipolar process
with the optical source positioned at the silicon and silicon oxide interface. The propagation directions in
the silicon oxide layer as well as the exit angles after they passed through the silicon nitride layer into air
are indicated. Wavelength values and refractive indices and refraction phenomena were assumed to
occur as per available in available Refs. 33–36, shown as insert figures, (b) and (c).

where I o is the intensity at position along the propagation at and was also the least refracted by the surface layers of
the optical source position or successive layer interface, and the device. Higher refraction and lower intensities were
d is the distance of propagation. observed for the green-emitted intensities (around 550 nm)
Refractive index values (see Refs. 32–36) were used in at higher refracted angles, followed by much higher refrac-
the respective analyses. The results and outcomes of the tion and lower emitted intensities for the blue propagation
modeling analyses for the case where the optical source wavelengths.
was positioned at the silicon–silicon dioxide interface are The ray-tracing modeling based on primary refraction
shown in Fig. 5. mechanisms (see Figs. 6 and 7) interestingly revealed low
The results and outcomes of a similar analyses for the case wavelength dispersion at the surface of the device when
where the optical source was positioned at 1 μm below the the optical source was assumed to be positioned at the sili-
silicon–silicon dioxide interface are shown in Fig. 6. con–silicon oxide interface. Only at high exit angles was
noticeable dispersion observed for different wavelengths
(see Fig. 6).
6 Discussion of the Results Modeling with the optical source at 1 μm subsurface
The dispersion in terms of different wavelength emissions below the silicon revealed that substantial refraction and
per angle, as both experimentally and theoretically observed, dispersion of the propagation occur subsurface in the silicon
is very clear and pronounced. The analyses showed that itself, which results in the high dispersion of different wave-
the red optical radiation had the highest emitted intensities lengths at the surface of the device (see Fig. 7).

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(b) 10 (c) 7
0.6 4
0 0
400 450 500 550 600 650 700 500 1000 1500

Fig. 7 (a) Modeling and ray tracing of the optical refraction phenomenon in a silicon RF bipolar process
with the optical source positioned 1 μm below the silicon and silicon oxide interface. Wavelength values
and refractive indices and refraction phenomena were assumed as per available in available Refs. 33–36
and is shown as inserts, (b) and (c).

Table 1 shows summative comparisons between the index variation of only 0.5 unit is observed in silicon oxide
experimentally observed dispersion characteristics (see for the wavelength range of 400 to 700 nm.
Sec. 4) and those derived through ray tracing and theoretical Table 2 shows the derived values for the dispersion for
modeling (as in this section). green and blue radiations, respectively, using red radiation
Interestingly, we observed a weak correlation between as reference. The results were derived from the respective
the experimentally measured dispersion phenomena and experimentally observed image shifts, as shown in Fig. 4.
the theoretical analyses when the optical source was posi- Good image shift peaks were observed for the red–green
tioned at the silicon–silicon dioxide interface. However, shifts, and a reasonable correlation was observed between
we observed a strong (substantial) correlation between the the experimentally observed shifts (squares) and the theoreti-
experimentally observed and theoretically analyzed derived cally derived values.
dispersion phenomena as shown in Table 1 (bolded col- For the blue shifts, only rough shift values could be
umns), for the scenario where the optical source was posi- derived at the low exit angles, because of the much higher
tioned at 1 μm subsurface of the silicon. shifts occurring for this radiation, and only partial peaks
A further interesting derivation from the analyses is that could be recorded for the higher tilt angles. It can be antici-
the silicon oxide and silicon nitride over-layers seemingly pated that the exact correlation would be a function of the
contributed minimally to the observed dispersion in the emit- exact position of the optical source below the silicon surface.
ted radiation and that the silicon itself was primarily respon- The current correlation predicts that the real source was
sible for the observed dispersion phenomenon of the device slightly deeper lying than 1 μm, which will result in even
(as shown in Fig. 7). This was seemingly primarily because better correlations. The low intensities observed for the
of the high refractive variation of the silicon in the range of emitted blue radiation were due to the high absorption of
radiation as emitted by the SiAM LED light source. the blue radiation in the silicon itself.
Inspection revealed that the refractive index varied almost Figure 8 shows a graphical presentation of the finally
three units in the range 400 to 700 nm, whereas a refractive derived results. The derived dispersion in terms of change

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Table 1 Derived experimentally observed dispersion magnitudes.

Derived d Θo (theoretical) Derived dΘo (theoretical)

Experimentally Shift in intermediate d Θi at through ray tracing and (through ray tracing and
measured shift image plane, X i , intermediate modeling with the optical modeling with the optical
(digital (cm) Camera image plane, d Θo (experimental) source at Si–Si O2 source 1 μm below the
Radiation magnification) M plus digital I (red–green) at objective plane) interface) (red–green) silicon surface
exit angle (red–green) (cm) magnification = 50) (deg) (red–green) (deg) (deg) (red–green) (deg)

5 0.25 0.02 0.06 0.47 0.00 0.40

15 0.50 0.03 0.13 0.93 0.00 0.93

30 0.75 0.05 0.19 1.40 0.00 1.80

45 1.00 0.07 0.25 1.86 0.02 3.04

60 2.00 0.13 0.51 3.73 0.02 5.80

Note: Derived according to the procedures outlined in Sec. 4, and compared to the theoretical modeling in Sec. 5, with the optical source in different
The values in bold indicate substantial correlation between the theoretically predicted and the experimentally derived values.

Table 2 Derived experimentally observed values for the dispersion for the Si AMLED device as shown in Fig. 1 for green and blue radiations, using
the red radiation as a reference.

Derived dispersion, Derived dispersion,

Shift in intermediate d Θ∕d λ, green Derived intensity, Shift in intermediate (experimental, Derived intensity
image plane, X i , relative to red, experimental, image plane, X i , d Θ∕d λ blue (experimental,
Radiation (cm) Camera M plus 580 nm green relative (cm) Camera M plus relative to red), blue relative to
exit angle digital magnification (experimental) to red digital magnification 580 nm red)

5 0.25 0.010 1.0 1.5 0.018 0.3

15 0.50 0.023 1.0 2.5 0.036 0.3

30 0.75 0.045 1.0 5.0 0.072 0.3

45 1.00 0.050 0.9 8.0 0.115 0.3

60 2.00 0.090 0.8

Fig. 8 Comparison of the derived experimentally and theoretically derived wavelength dispersion
values as a function of radiation exit angle from the surface of a p+nn+ Si avalanche mode LED
and as integrated silicon RF bipolar-integrated circuitry, plotted as dots and solid lines, respectively
(source positioned 1 μm below the silicon silicon-oxide interface).

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of angle per wavelength as a function of exit angle for green refractive index as determined by the device silicon
and blue propagation wavelengths is presented. The theoreti- oxide over-layers (1.46 for silicon dioxide);
cal derived values are presented as solid lines while the 3. The observed chromatic dispersion characteristics
experimentally observed values are plotted. Only the results range as observed for the p+nn+ Si AM LED devices
for green and blue are presented since much less values were as analyzed in this study indicate values of dispersion
observed for red propagation wavelengths and the experi- of 0.02 deg ∕nm wavelength for green radiation at a
mentally observed shifts were indeed measured using the 15 deg from the normal exit angle to 0.10 deg ∕nm
red peaks as a reference (as in Fig. 5). The slight deviation at 60 deg exit angle. For blue propagation wavelength,
between the theoretical results is attributed to a presumable the corresponding values are 0. 028 degrees per nm to
slight shallower real lying optical source than the 1 μm lying 0.16 degrees per nm.
optical source as assumed in the theoretical simulations.
4. The analyses as performed in this study also indicate
that the position of the optical source can be deter-
7 Potential Applications of the Observed mined by comparison of experimental analyses with
Phenomena in Futuristic On-Chip Micro and theoretical modeling results. In this case, the position
Nanodimensioned Micro- and Nano-Optic of the optical source is determined to be slightly shal-
Devices lower than 1 μm in the silicon at about 0:9 μm below
An analysis of the results reveals numerous potential appli- the surface of the silicon.
cations for the derived technology in futuristic on-chip opto-
electronics. These may range from (1) the placement of spe- Furthermore, it has been determined, through theoretical
cifically designed optical sources with specific directional modeling, that the second and third over-layers (normally
and dispersive emission characteristics; (2) the design and encountered in silicon-integrated circuits) seemingly contrib-
placement of micro wavelength dispersive coupling into ute little to wavelength dispersion phenomena, as the refrac-
microdimensioned on-chip optical waveguides; (3) the tive indices differ too little. In the specific device studied in
design and placement of broadband wavelength emitters this study, the highest optical dispersion in terms of change
for diverse on-chip electro-optic applications; (4) Fabry– in exit angle per wavelength occurs at the first interface when
Perot interference interferometers transforming broadband light emerges from the silicon and travels into the silicon
wavelength emissions into narrow band on-chip optical emit- over-layer of less refractive index. The refractive index
ters; and (5) the realization of various on-chip nano- and step is quite high from 3.5 to 1.5 (Δ ¼ 2.0), and silicon-
microdimensioned sensors that can detect a variety of param- oxide a major dispersion of light occurs at the silicon inter-
eters, ranging from standard physical parameters to a range face because of the high-refractive index differences at the
of derived bioparameters through the use of waveguide interface. Light then travels through the silicon oxide
optics and intermediate evanescent-based waveguide-based layer and undergoes a second dispersion when traveling
receptor layers. from the silicon oxide layer into the air. This refractive
What makes these applications so attractive is the micro index is also quite large, viz. from 1.46 to 1 (Δ ¼ 0.46).
positioning of the optical source itself through micro- and The refractive index changes for the different wavelengths
nanolithographic technology, the design of waveguides in the silicon oxide are, however, much less and do not
and wavelength dispersers using the same technology, and cause excessive dispersion in this medium;
the design of microelectronic processing technology in High absorption of different wavelengths mainly occurs
close proximity to the optical source, and detectors to proc- in the high-index silicon, with a refractive index of 3.5.
ess and transfer derived information to adjacent on-chip The critical angle for exiting the surface of the silicon is,
processing circuitry. however, only 35 deg. This implies that the absorption
path differences between the zero degree exiting light and
8 Conclusions the 35 deg exiting light is not much different, such that
absorption differences between 650 and 450 nm are most
The following important conclusions can be derived from significant and result in a reduction of blue 450- and 550-
this study: nm emissions, as observed in the experimental results.
1. SiAM LEDs that operate in an avalanche mode and The specific dispersion characteristics, as observed for
that emit broadband optical emissions over a wide this device, predict interesting uses in futuristic on-chip inte-
propagation wavelength range offer interesting gration applications. These may range from the realization of
dispersion characteristics for each propagation wave- wavelength dispersers in on-chip optical communication and
lengths, with green and blue propagation wavelengths signal processors, where coupling and transmission in on-
refracted quite substantially, and dispersed over wider chip optical waveguides are utilized, to the realization of
exit angles as compared with longer propagation on-chip micro- and nano-optical sensors where gas and bio-
wavelengths of red radiation. material are allowed to interact with different color regions
on the chip.
2. The dispersion is well observed when an optical
source of micron dimensions is placed 1 micron
below a silicon surface. The observed dispersion is 9 Appendix
then mainly a function of the distance that the optical Example of the ray-tracing tool that was developed with
radiation travels in the silicon itself, as well as the spe- Microsoft Excel and used for analyses of the dispersion phe-
cific refraction phenomena occurring at the first inter- nomena occurring at the various interfaces in the device
face surface, where the refraction index changes from structure as analyzed in this study according to theoretical
the high value (3.5 for silicon itself) to a much lower principles. First, the optical source was positioned at a

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Okhai, Snyman, and Polleux: Wavelength dispersion phenomena observed for emitted optical radiation. . .

Table 3 Calculated ray tracing paths and predicted interface dispersion values for different wavelengths and emission angles for an optical micro-
source positioned 1.0 μm below the silicon surface of the Si AM LED device as in Fig. 7. Θ1 is the incident angle to the Si-Si oxide interface and Θ2 is
the refraction angle in the Si oxide.

D ¼ d Θ∕d λ
Θ2 ¼ sin −1 d Θ (rel to (rel to 580 nm)
λ (nm) Θ1 (deg) n1 n2 sin (Θ1 ) n 1 sin (Θ1 ) ½n 1 sinðΘ1 Þ∕n2 ½ðn 1 sinðΘ1 Þ∕n 2  Θ2 (deg) 580 nm) (at Si-SiO2 interface)

580 (red) 0 3.600 1.459 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0

5 3.600 1.459 0.09 0.31 0.22 0.22 12 0 0

10 3.600 1.459 0.17 0.63 0.43 0.44 25

15 3.600 1.459 0.26 0.93 0.64 0.68 37 0 0

20 3.600 1.459 0.34 1.23 0.84 0.95 48

25 3.600 1.459 0.42 1.52 1.04 1.24 60

30 3.600 1.459 0.50 1.80 1.23 1.57 71

35 3.600 1.459 0.57 2.06 1.42 1.94 81

40 3.600 1.459 0.64 2.31 1.59 2.34 91

45 3.600 1.459 0.71 2.55 1.74 2.77

45 3.600 1.459 0.71 2.55 1.74 2.77

50 3.600 1.459 0.77 2.76 1.89 3.23

55 3.600 1.459 0.82 2.95 2.02 3.71

60 3.600 1.459 0.87 3.12 2.14 4.18

540 (green) 0 4.000 1.460 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0

5 4.000 1.460 0.09 0.35 0.24 0.24 14 2 0.0500

10 4.000 1.460 0.17 0.69 0.48 0.49 27

15 4.000 1.460 0.26 1.04 0.71 0.77 41 4 0.1000

20 4.000 1.460 0.34 1.37 0.94 1.08 54

25 4.000 1.460 0.42 1.69 1.16 1.43 66

30 4.000 1.460 0.50 2.00 1.37 1.84 78

35 4.000 1.460 0.57 2.29 1.57 2.30 90

40 4.000 1.460 0.64 2.57 1.76 2.82

45 4.000 1.460 0.71 2.83 1.94 3.40

45 4.000 1.460 0.71 2.83 1.94 3.40

50 4.000 1.460 0.77 3.06 2.10 4.02

55 4.000 1.460 0.82 3.28 2.24 4.66

60 4.000 1.460 0.87 3.46 2.37 5.32

420 (blue) 0 5.000 1.468 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0

5 5.000 1.468 0.09 0.44 0.30 0.30 17 5 0.0313

10 5.000 1.468 0.17 0.87 0.59 0.63 34

15 5.000 1.468 0.26 1.29 0.88 1.00 51 14 0.0875

20 5.000 1.468 0.34 1.71 1.16 1.45 67

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Okhai, Snyman, and Polleux: Wavelength dispersion phenomena observed for emitted optical radiation. . .

Table 3 (Continued).

D ¼ d Θ∕d λ
Θ2 ¼ sin −1 d Θ (rel to (rel to 580 nm)
λ (nm) Θ1 (deg) n1 n2 sin (Θ1 ) n1 sin (Θ1 ) ½n 1 sinðΘ1 Þ∕n 2 ½ðn 1 sinðΘ1 Þ∕n 2  Θ2 (deg) 580 nm) (at Si-SiO2 interface)
25 5.000 1.468 0.42 2.11 1.44 1.99 82

30 5.000 1.468 0.50 2.50 1.70 2.65

35 5.000 1.468 0.57 2.87 1.95 3.46

40 5.000 1.468 0.64 3.21 2.19 4.41

45 5.000 1.468 0.71 3.54 2.41 5.51

45 5.000 1.468 0.71 3.54 2.41 5.51

50 5.000 1.468 0.77 3.83 2.61 6.76

55 5.000 1.468 0.82 4.10 2.79 8.11

60 5.000 1.468 0.87 4.33 2.95 9.52

The values in bold indicate substantial correlation between the theoretically predicted and the experimentally derived values.

specific initial site in the structure, a specific wavelength of 7. L. W. Snyman, “Integrating micro-photonic systems and MOEMS into
standard silicon CMOS integrated circuitry,” in Optoelectronics,
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Acknowledgments characteristics of integrated silicon avalanche LEDs—potential applica-
tions in futuristic on-chip micro-and nano-bio-sensors,” Proc. SPIE
This work was supported, in part, by the National 10036, 1003604 (2017).
Research Foundation Rated Researcher Incentive Funding 14. A. Agah et al., “Design requirements for integrated biosensor arrays,”
Proc. SPIE 5699(57), 403–413 (2005).
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Grant No. KSC 69798, and the Department of Higher Biospecific Analytical Techniques, L. Gorton, Ed., Comprehensive
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Education and Training (DHET) Grant, administered by BV, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2005).
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Laboratory at ESIEE, France, is especially thanked for Wesley, 2012, hppt:// (28 December 2012).
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patents.37–40 The work presented in this article in particular junctions,” Solid-State Electron. 6(2), 147–157 (1963).
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a further provisional SA patent application dated September 21. L. W. Snyman et al., “An efficient, low voltage, high frequency silicon
2016. The authors declare that they have no conflicting CMOS light-emitting device and electro-optical interface,” IEEE
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27. G. Piccolo et al., “Silicon LEDs in FinFET technology,” in Proc. of the 40. L. W. Snyman, J-L. Polleux, and K. Xu, “Optimised 650 nm impurity
44th European Solid State Device Research Conf. (ESSDERC), assisted injection controlled Si Av LED,” SA Patent (2016).
pp. 274–277 (2014).
28. A. Chatterjee, B. Bhuva, and R. Schrimpf, “High-speed light modula-
tion in avalanche breakdown mode for Si diodes,” IEEE Electron Device Timothy A. Okhai received his higher diploma in biomedical engi-
Lett. 25(9), 628–630 (2004). neering from the College of Medicine of the University of Lagos,
29. K. A. Ogudo et al., “Towards 10–40 GHz on-chip micro-optical Nigeria, in 1997. In 2008, he was awarded a master’s degree in clini-
links with all integrated Si Av LED optical sources, Si N based wave- cal engineering at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria,
guides and Si-Ge detector technology,” Proc. SPIE 8991, 899108 South Africa, where he is also a lecturer. Currently, he is a PhD
(2014). student in electronics at the College for Science Engineering and
30. L. W. Snyman et al., “Higher intensity Si Av LEDs in an RF bipolar Technology at the University of South Africa. The author of two
process through carrier energy and carrier momentum engineering,”
IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 51(7), 3200110 (2015). book chapters, he is presently working on the development of silicon
31. L. W. Snyman et al., “Stimulating 600–650 nm wavelength optical photonic chemical and biochemical sensors for clinical applications.
emission in monolithically integrated silicon LEDs through controlled His research interests include thermal ablation therapy, and the devel-
injection-avalanche and carrier density balancing technology,” IEEE J. opment of silicon photonic sensors for chemical and biomedical
Quantum Electron. 53(5), 1–9 (2017). applications.
32. (28 February 2018).
33. I. H. Malitson, “Interspecimen comparison of refractive index of fused Lukas W. Snyman received his PhD in semiconductor physics from
silica,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 55(10), 1205–1208 (1965). the University of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in 1987. Currently, he is
34. (28 a professor at the University of South Africa in Johannesburg. To date,
February 2018).
35. D. E. Aspnes and J. B. Theeten, “Spectroscopic analysis of the interface he has published about 120 scientific articles, mainly in the field of
between Si and its thermally grown oxide,” J. Electrochem. Soc. 127(6), solid state physics and Si AMLEDs. He is the author of two scholarly
1359–1365 (1980). chapters in books, of which latest is entitled “Integrating micro-
36. (28 photonic systems and MOEMS into standard silicon CMOS integrated
February 2018). circuitry” (Intech 2014). He is the main inventor and coinventor of six
37. L. W. Snyman, “Wavelength specific silicon light-emitting structure,” granted USA patents, two European, two Korean, one Chinese, and
(2010), PCT/ZA2010/0031. Granted: SA 2009/04162 (assigned to 11 granted SA patents.
Tshwane University of Technology, Granted: EPO (1020127000895)
(assigned to Tshwane University of Technology), Granted: USA
(13378201) (Royalties to L. W. Snyman). Jean-Luc Polleux received his degree Diplôme d’ingénieur in micro-
38. L. W. Snyman, “CMOS-based micro-photonic systems,” (2011), electronic from ENSEIRB, Bordeaux, France, and his DEA degree in
(WO/2012/075511) (PCT/ZA2011/000090) Submitted: China electronics and telecommunications from the University of Bordeaux,
(201180066252.9) (assigned to Tshwane University of Technology) France (both, in 1997). In 2001, he received his PhD in the opto-
Submitted: EP Office (2011826188) (assigned to Tshwane University microwave field from CNAM, Paris. Currently, he is an associate pro-
of Technology). fessor at ESIEE-Paris at Université Paris-Est (UPE), France, and the
39. L. W. Snyman, “CMOS MOEMS sensor device” (2010), PCT/ZA2010/ joint laboratory ESYCOM. His interests involve microwave-photonics
00033. Granted: SA (2011/04343) (assigned to TUT); Granted: EPO devices and systems for radio-over-fibre applications, with special
(2010819670) (assigned to Tshwane University of Technology); Granted:
USA (13146469) (assigned to Tshwane University of Technology); emphasis on microwave phototransistors (SiGe/Si and InGaAs/ InP),
(royalties to L. W. Snyman); Granted: Korea (1020127000910) silicon-based integration and packaging, analogue VCSELs and
(assigned to Tshwane University of Technology). opto-microwave device modelling.

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