A novel class of optical waveguides with a box-shaped cross section consisting of a low-index inner material surrounded by a thin high-index coating layer is presented. This original multilayered structure widens the traditional concept of index contrast for dielectric waveguides toward a more general concept of effective index contrast, which can be artificially tailored over a continuous range by properly choosing the thickness of the outer high-index layers. An electromagnetic analysis is reported, which shows that the transverse electric and transverse magnetic modes are spatially confined in different regions of the cross section and exhibit an almost 90° rotational symmetry. Such unusual field distribution is demonstrated to open the way to new intriguing properties with respect to conventional waveguides. Design criteria are provided into details, which mainly focus on the polarization dependence of the waveguide on geometrical parameters. The possibility of achieving single-mode waveguides with either zero or high birefringence is discussed, and the bending capabilities are compared to conventional waveguides. The feasibility of the proposed waveguide is demonstrated by the realization of prototypal samples that are fabricated by using the emerging CMOS-compatible Si<sub>3</sub>N<sub>4</sub>–SiO<sub>2</sub> TriPleX technology. An exhaustiveexperimental characterization is reported, which shows propagation loss as low as state-of-the-art low-index-contrast waveguides (< 0.1 dB/cm) together with enhanced flexibility in the optimization of polarization sensitivity and confirms the high potentialities of the proposed waveguides for large-scale integrated optics.
© 2007 IEEEPDF Article