Experimental evaluation of low-loss/non-dispersive terahertz waveguides




Smith, Robert Levi

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Low-loss waveguides with minimal dispersion are desired throughout the electromagnetic spectrum. These properties are difficult to achieve in the Terahertz (THz) region due to material and geometric constraints. This thesis focuses on the design, fabrication, and testing of waveguide-based devices using two promising technologies: the free-space metallic-slit waveguide (MSWG) and the coplanar strip (CPS) waveguide on a thin (1 um) commercial silicon nitride membrane. The work presented here differs from standard THz waveguide research which commonly uses the field radiated by a photoconductive antenna (THz optics) for excitation and detection. To improve upon system integration, a focus is placed on planar waveguide devices without refractive THz elements. Three main waveguide devices are investigated. First, an edge-coupled MSWG-based linear tapered slot antenna (LTSA) was used for THz-Time Domain Spectroscopy (TDS). This device functions as an alternative to a standard photoconductive switch coupled to a silicon lens and maintains comparable performance. Next an edge-coupled tapered MSWG was investigated. The MSWG conductor separation was increased to a low-loss configuration where the field propagated for 24 mm, after which the conductors were tapered to focus the field onto the receiving active region where a THz-bandwidth pulse was detected. Finally a CPS waveguide was fabricated on a thin silicon nitride membrane where a THz-bandwidth pulse was detected after propagating for 10 mm. The active regions for this device were fabricated using a unique method. This method results in the creation of thousands of small (40 um x 20 um) active regions (from a 4 mm x 4 mm host substrate) which can be placed anywhere for THz excitation and detection. The small active regions in conjunction with the CPS waveguide on the silicon nitride membrane provide an excellent platform for THz system testing. A single membrane can host many THz circuits which can be made ``active" by the placement of a few thin-film photoconductive devices. Main potential future applications include waveguide-based spectroscopy and coherent THz-bandwidth circuit analysis.



Terahertz, waveguide, transmission line, experimental, TSoC, Terahertz System-on-chip, THz, THz-TDS