The article “Wafer-level hermetically sealed silicon photonic MEMS is now online.

The publication is an open access article written by Gaehun Jo, Pierre Edinger, Simon J. Bleiker, Xiaojing Wang, Alain Yuji Takabayashi, Hamed Sattari, Niels Quack, Moises Jezzini, Jun Su Lee, Peter Verheyen, Iman Zand, Umar Khan, Wim Bogaerts, Göran Stemme, Kristinn B. Gylfason, and Frank Niklaus.

The emerging fields of silicon (Si) photonic micro–electromechanical systems (MEMS) and optomechanics enable a wide range of novel high-performance photonic devices with ultra-low power consumption, such as integrated optical MEMS phase shifters, tunable couplers, switches, and optomechanical resonators. In contrast to conventional SiO2SiO2-clad Si photonics, photonic MEMS and optomechanics have suspended and movable parts that need to be protected from environmental influence and contamination during operation. Wafer-level hermetic sealing can be a cost-efficient solution, but Si photonic MEMS that are hermetically sealed inside cavities with optical and electrical feedthroughs have not been demonstrated to date, to our knowledge. Here, the authors demonstrate wafer-level vacuum sealing of Si photonic MEMS inside cavities with ultra-thin caps featuring optical and electrical feedthroughs that connect the photonic MEMS on the inside to optical grating couplers and electrical bond pads on the outside. We used Si photonic MEMS devices built on foundry wafers from the iSiPP50G Si photonics platform of IMEC, Belgium. Vacuum confinement inside the sealed cavities was confirmed by an observed increase of the cutoff frequency of the electro-mechanical response of the encapsulated photonic MEMS phase shifters, due to reduction of air damping. The sealing caps are extremely thin, have a small footprint, and are compatible with subsequent flip-chip bonding onto interposers or printed circuit boards. Thus, their approach for sealing of integrated Si photonic MEMS clears a significant hurdle for their application in high-performance Si photonic circuits.

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