Affordable WDM components: The polymer solution

Louay Eldada, Shing Yin, Robert A. Norwood, James T. Yardley

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


An advanced polymeric waveguide technology was developed for affordable WDM components that address the needs of both the Telecom and the Datacom industries. We engineered high-performance organic polymers that can be readily made into both multimode and single-mode optical waveguide structures of controlled numerical aperture (NA) and geometry. These materials are formed from highly-crosslinked acrylate monomers with specific linkages that determine properties such as flexibility, toughness, loss, and environmental stability. These monomers are intermiscible, providing for precise adjustment of the refractive index from 1.3 to 1.6. In polymer form, they exhibit state-of-the-art loss values, high thermal stability, high humidity resistance, low dispersion and low birefringence. Waveguides are formed photolithographically, with the liquid monomer mixture polymerizing upon illumination in the UV via either mask exposure or laser direct writing. A wide range of rigid and flexible substrates can be used, including glass, quartz, oxidized silicon, glass-filled epoxy printed circuit board substrate, and flexible polyimide film. Waveguiding structures measuring tens of inches in length can be produced on computer boards, and guides that are meters long can be printed on rolls of plastic. We describe the fabrication of both Bragg gratings and waveguide grating routers (WGR's) in our polymers for filtering and demultiplexing applications in Telecom WDM systems. In Datacom, we describe polymeric components that we produced for aerospace WDM sensor systems. The importance of CAD tools in designing WDM devices is emphasized in this work. We further discuss the low-cost manufacturing of WDM components in an industrial environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-174
Number of pages14
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - Feb 1 1998
EventDesign and Manufacturing of WDM Devices 1997 - Dallas, United States
Duration: Nov 2 1997Nov 5 1997


  • CAD
  • Environmental stability
  • Low cost
  • Low loss
  • Manufacturing
  • Polymers
  • WDM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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