Optical communications networks require integrated photonic components with negligible polarization dependence, which typically means that the waveguides must feature very low birefringence. Recent studies have shown that waveguides with low birefringence can be obtained, e.g., by use of silica-on-silicon waveguides or buried ion-exchanged glass waveguides. However, many integrated photonic circuits consist of waveguides with varying widths. Therefore low birefringence is consequently required for waveguides having different widths. This is a difficult task for most waveguide fabrication technologies. We present experimental results on waveguide birefringence for buried silver–sodium ion-exchanged glass waveguides. We show that the waveguide birefringence of the order of 10−6 for waveguide mask opening widths ranging from 2 to 10 µm can be obtained by postprocessing the sample through annealing at an elevated temperature. The measured values are in agreement with the values calculated with our modeling software for ion-exchanged glass waveguides. This unique feature of ion-exchanged waveguides may be of significant importance in a wide variety of integrated photonic circuits requiring polarization-independent operation.
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