We propose and demonstrate a novel 2×2 digital electrooptic switch where the light output exhibits a steplike response to the switching voltage. This response characteristic eliminates the need for precise voltage control for switching, and it, therefore, enables the operation of many such elements by a single voltage source, as required for switching arrays. Moreover, the new device can switch both polarization components simultaneously and is insensitive to the precise wavelength of light. The performance of this switch does not depend critically on any design parameter, and, therefore, it is quite tolerant to variation in the fabrication process. Most electrooptic switches are interferometric in nature; i.e., they require a precise phase shift to achieve a switched state with low crosstalk. It is very difficult to switch the two orthogonal polarization components simultaneously due to the difference in the induced phase shift. An interferometric switch is also wavelength dependent and, therefore, incompatible with wavelength multiplexed signals.

© 1988 Optical Society of America

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