We demonstrate fabrication of robust, low-loss silica photonic wires using tapered microstructured silica optical fiber. The fiber is tapered by a factor of fifty while retaining the internal structure and leaving the air holes completely open. The air holes isolate the core mode from the surrounding environment, making it insensitive to surface contamination and contact leakage, suggesting applications as nanowires for photonic circuits. We describe a transition between two different operation regimes of our photonic wire from the embedded regime, where the mode is isolated from the environment, to the evanescent regime, where more than 70% of the mode intensity can propagate outside of the fiber. Interesting dispersion and nonlinear properties are identified.
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