Polymers are attractive to realize integrated circuits specially because they are very simple to process and are promising for low cost devices. Moreover, beside low cost technology, the large possible range of refractive index, could lead to large scale of integration, lowering the fabrication costs. In some cases, it could be an alternative solution to semiconductor or inorganic dielectric technologies. With usual UV photolithography technology, this work shows that it is possible to perform small guides in order to provide relatively high circuit densification. The refractive index contrast, between optical core and cladding, can be as high as 0.07 instead of 0.02 for the higher contrast in silica Ge doped waveguides. Recently, this contrast has been increased to 0.11 at the wavelength of 1550nm. These materials make possible the patterning of guides having radius of curvature smaller than 200μm. Such curvatures open the way to functions based on microrings that potentially lead to compact wavelength multiplexers. With the view to control the fabrication of polymer waveguides, some features of the process are reported here. For example, shortcomings such as unsuitable film worm aspects are described and solutions are given with requirements assigned to rough materials. Mechanical and thermal properties of polymers have to be adjusted to withstand integrated circuit processing. This paper also presents results concerning the realization of integrated passive microring resonators with this technology.
Generalization of optical communication promotes fabrication of low cost integrated waveguide components. Polymer waveguides are attractive because they are very simple to process and are promising for low cost devices. Up to date, several methods are used to make single mode guides in polymer films. Traditionally, they require multi-step processes involving photolithography, etching and annealing. The UV induced modification of the dielectrics property of polymers is a useful technique for low cost realization of integrated optical circuits and can enable a direct writing process.
This paper reports a demonstration of photo-printed waveguides in an intrinsically photosensitive polymer film. In this polymer (PVCi: PolyVinylCinnamate), local UV irradiation yields a lowering of refractive index even at telecom wavelengths (1300 and 1550 nm). We show significant achievement concerning the index contrasts up to 3x10-2 at 1550 nm. The more the refractive index contrast between the core and cladding increases, the more the guide size and curvature can be reduced, allowing the manufacture of smaller photonic devices. However miniaturization of optical planar waveguides in integrated devices increases the coupling losses from and to single-mode optical fibers. Simulations and experimental demonstrations with PVCi photosensitive waveguides also show the potential of photo-printing process to make efficient index mode converters between small planar waveguides and single-mode fibers. The process uses the post-irradiation of the guide by an UV source to gradually decrease the refractive index from the guide to the fibre.