The spin-on photoresist SU8 from MicroChem has a relatively high refractive index (n=1.57 at 1550nm) compared with other polymers. It is stable and has high optical transmission at optical communication wavelengths. In this paper we study rib waveguides fabricated using SU8 as the core layer and thermoset polymers UV15 (n=1.50 at 1550nm) from Master Bond and NOA61 (n=1.54 at 1550nm) from Gentec as the cladding layers. The rib height is varied from 0.3 to 1.7μm high. This is part of the SU8 layer sandwiched between the cladding layers. The waveguides are tested to determine the effects of varying this geometry for single mode optical transmission. The lengths of the waveguides were 1.5 cm to 5 cm.
Polymer films with high optical transmission have been investigated for making optical devices for several years. SU8 photoresist and optical adhesives have been investigated for use as thin films for optical devices, not what they were originally designed for. Optical adhesives are typically a one component thermoset polymer and are convenient to use for making thin film optical devices such as waveguides. They are prepared in minutes as thin films unlike SU8, which has to be carefully thermally cured over several hours for optimum results. However SU8 can be accurately patterned to form the geometry of structures required for single mode optical waveguides. SU8 in combination with the lower refractive index optical adhesive films such as UV15 from Master Bond are used to form single and multi mode waveguides. SU8 is photopatternable but we have also used dry etching of the SU8 layer or the other polymer layers e.g. UV15 to form the ribs, ridges or trenches required to guide single modes of light. Optical waveguides were also fabricated using only optical adhesives of different refractive indices. The resolution obtainable is poorer than with SU8 and hence multi mode waveguides are obtained. Loss measurements have been obtained for waveguides of different geometries and material combinations. The process for making polymer waveguides is demonstrated for making large multi mode waveguides and microfluidic channels by scaling the process up in size.