We have observed waveguiding in thin films of polymer gelatin on GaAs, LiNbO3, glass, and aluminum substrates. A graded-index profile can be induced in the gelatin layer and tuned by wet processing. This makes it possible to form waveguides on any smooth surface. Locally sensitizing the gelatin waveguide with ammonium dichromate allows us to integrate single and multiplexed gratings on the same substrate to perform various functions for optical interconnects and signal processing. A waveguide grating coupler that converts free-space TEM00 laser light to a two-dimensional spherical guided wave with 50° angle of divergence has also been demonstrated. An optical clock distribution network on wafer-scale integrated circuits is feasible with this new technology.
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