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5 October 1995 Low-loss nonlinear optical polymeric waveguide materials and devices
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Recently developed photobleachable polymers show a loss of < 0.1 dB/cm at 1300 nm and < 0.15 dB/cm at 1550 nm. Nonchromophore containing polymers show film waveguide losses of < dB/cm at 1300 nm and 1550 nm. Refractive indices in these materials can be tuned within a range of 0.05 by changing the polymer composition. Multilayers of cross-linked (solvent resistant) layers, each 2-10 microns have been deposited by multiple spinning steps. Using these multilayers, fully embedded, fiber-compatible strip waveguide structures have been created by masked bleaching of multilayers with chromophore containing corelayers. The lateral refractive index contrast is thereby tuned by changing the chromophore content of the corepolymer. Poling-induced loss has been investigated by wavelength and polarization dependent measurements of losses in films. The results indicate that this loss is due to increased scattering. Bleached channel waveguides in a poled (at 125 V/micrometers ) nonlinear optical polymer have been made showing losses of < dB/cm at 1300 nm. Rapid photodegradation at 1300 nm has been observed in stilbene containing channel waveguides. In a nitrogen atmosphere no degradation was seen. The same is true for waveguides in air at 1550 nm. This suggests the attack of the stilbene chromophores by singlet oxygen. Therefore a new generation of low-loss, linear, and nonlinear optical polymers based on singlet oxygen resistant molecules has been developed. The linear optical polymers are used for the realization of low-insertion loss (< 2 dB), digital (switch voltage 3-6 V) and efficient (switching power < mW, cross talk - 20 dB) pigtailed and packaged 1 X 2 switches. They utilize the strong thermo-optic effect in polymers. Their switching time is therefore limited to 1 ms whereas their polarization dependence is < 0.3 dB.
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