Optical Waveguides

Just as a metallic strip connects the various components of an electrical integrated circuit, optical waveguides connects components and devices of an optical integrated circuit. However, optical waveguides differ from the flow of current in that the optical waves travel through the a waveguide in a spatial distribution of optical energy, or mode. In contrast to bulk optics, which guide optical waves through air, optical waveguides guide light through dielectric conduits.

Bulk Optical Circuit:

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Optical Waveguides:

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The use of waveguides allows for the creation of optical integrated circuits or photonic integrated circuits (PIC). Take for example, the following optical transmit and receive module:

optical_transmitrecieve

Planar Waveguides

A planar waveguide is a structure that limits mobility in only one direction. If we consider the planar waveguide to be on the x axis, then the waveguide may limit the travel of light between two values on the x axis. In the y and z directions, light may travel infinitely. The planar waveguide does not serve many practical uses, however it’s concept is the basis for other tpyes of waveguides. Planar waveguides are also referred to as slab waveguides.Planar waveguides can be made out of mirrors or using a dielectric with a high refractive index slab. See also, Planar Boundaries, Total Internal Reflection, Beamsplitters.

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Rectangular Waveguides

Rectangular waveguides can also be built either from mirrors or using a high refractive index rectangular waveguide.

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The following are useful waveguide geometries:

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Various combinations of waveguides may produce different and useful configurations of waveguides:

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