A variety of subwavelength optical elements (passive and active), their unique properties for integrating optical elements on a chip, and their fabrication in wafer-scale by nanoimprint lithography will be presented. The subwavelength optical elements (SOEs), which have feature size smaller than the wavelength of light and hence no non-zero order diffraction, drastically differ from bulk optics (i.e. ray optics) and diffractive optics in a number ways. First, SOEs can perform conventional bulk optics’ functions, but with a size orders of magnitude smaller than bulk optics. Second, different SOEs (hence different functions) can be made using the same materials but different nano-patterns, rather than different materials in bulk optics. The two advantages make SOEs intrinsically suited for integration on a chip. The third advantage, SOEs can offer new functionalities that bulk or diffractive optics do not have. A number of SOE examples will be discussed, including polarizers, beam splitters and combiners, waveplates, antireflection structures, filters (fixed or tunable), and lenses. Furthermore, integration of SOEs with lasers to control and tune laser’s properties (polarization, lasing mode and frequency, etc) will be discussed. Finally, an innovative nanofabrication technology will be discussed, which is essential to the manufacturing of SOEs.

© 2003 Optical Society of America

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