Waveguides used at optical frequencies are typically a dielectric structure, e.g. SU-8 or PMMA, with high transmission and high index of refraction surrounded by a material with lower %T. The structure guides optical waves by total internal reflection.
Integrated optics/photonics is becoming more pervasive as devices communicate with one another. Low optical loss is an important consideration for any waveguide fabrication technique. Optical losses in waveguides arise due to the material absorption and scattering losses from the sidewalls. The former is intrinsic to a particular material while the latter is attributed to the lithographic process. The refractive indices of the waveguide core, cladding and substrate are essential input parameters necessary to predict system behavior. Above a wavelength of 400 nm, the transmission of SU-8 is greater than 95%. SU-8 is optically transparent at 632.8 nm as well as at the telecommunications wavelengths of 1330 nm and 1550 nm. SU-8 is therefore a suitable material for optical waveguides. A sensor/detector waveguide stripe interferometer can be formed from SU-8 with a reactive clad coating that changes optical properties upon interaction with the substance to be detected.
PMMA and SU-8: Benefits/Attributes
- Excellent adhesion
- Optical transparency
- Excellent chemical resistance
- Spin coatable
- Material compatibility