We describe experiments on a quasi-two-dimensional (2-D) optical system consisting of a triangular array of air cylinders etched through a laser-like Ga(Al)As waveguiding heterostructure. Such a configuration is shown to yield results very well approximated by the infinite 2-D photonic crystal (PC). We first present a set of measurements of the optical properties (transmission, reflection, and diffraction) of slabs of these photonic crystals, including the case of in-plane Fabry-Perot cavities formed between two such crystals. The measurement method makes use of the guided photoluminescence of embedded quantum wells or InAs quantum dots to generate an internal probe beam. Out-of-plane scattering losses are evaluated by various means. In a second part, in-plane micrometer-sized photonic boxes bounded by circular trenches or by two-dimensional photonic crystal are probed by exciting spontaneous emission inside them. The high quality factors observed in such photon boxes demonstrate the excellent photon confinement attainable in these systems and allow to access the detail of the modal structure. Last, some perspectives for applications are offered.
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