Integrated photonic building blocks for next-generation astronomical instrumentation I: the multimode waveguide
We report on the fabrication and characterization of composite multimode waveguide structures that consist of a stack of single-mode waveguides fabricated by ultrafast laser inscription. We explore 2 types of composite structures; those that consist of overlapping single-mode waveguides which offer the maximum effective index contrast and non overlapped structures which support multiple modes via strong evanescent coupling. We demonstrate that both types of waveguides have negligible propagation losses (to within experimental uncertainty) for light injected with focal ratios >8, which corresponds to the cutoff of the waveguides. We also show that right below cutoff, there is a narrow region where the injected focal ratio is preserved (to within experimental uncertainty) at the output. Finally, we outline the major application of these highly efficient waveguides; in a device that is used to reformat the light in the focal plane of a telescope to a slit, in order to feed a diffraction-limited spectrograph.