Abstract

Using photo-induced refractive index variation sol–gel materials, we fabricated a self-organized lightwave network (SOLNET), which is a concept of optical waveguides self-organized in photosensitive materials, whose refractive index increases by write beam exposure. The refractive index of the sol–gel materials increases from 1.65 to 1.85 when exposed to UV light/blue light and baking. When write beams with a wavelength of 405 nm are introduced into the sol–gel thin film under baking at 200 $^{\circ}$C, self-focusing is induced and a SOLNET is formed. In this study, we evaluated the light confinement effect and coupling efficiencies of the fabricated SOLNET. The half-width of the output beam spot decreases from 23.8 to 11.8 $\mu$m, and the coupling efficiencies increase as write beam intensity decreases from 1.0 to 0.1 mW. These results show that SOLNET widths become narrow when write beam intensity is reduced; thus, SOLNETs formed with a low write beam intensity produce a strong light confinement effect. Furthermore, during their formation, SOLNETs were found to be drawn toward reflective portions of the sol–gel thin film, such as defects or silver paste droplets, indicating that a reflective SOLNET is formed. We have shown that photo-induced refractive index variation sol–gel materials are promising materials for SOLNET fabrication. To create actual connections between nanoscale optical circuits, further work is necessary to optimize the baking temperature and write beam intensity required for nanoscale SOLNET formation.

© 2009 IEEE

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