In this paper we analyze the characteristics of tapered multimode interference (MMI)-based coherent lightwave combiners, and theoretically confirm that the stable and clear multimode interference images exist in the tapered MMI combiners. We present the output characteristics of 2 × 1 tapered MMI-based coherent lightwave combiners under various structures, which are useful to optimally design the combiners. In order to extend the combiner to a multi-port (N × l, N > 2) configuration, a new structure with the border shapes of two tangent arcs is proposed, by which we show an output power imbalance of about 0.5 dB between different input ports of an 8 × 1 tapered coherent lightwave combiner. Due to the advantages of no end-facet reflection, easy extension to a multi-port configuration, high tolerance for fabrication errors and a compact size, the tapered MMI structure is a good candidate as a coherent lightwave combiner used in large-scale photonic integrated circuits.
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