Data are presented for the refractive index profiles for low-dose He+ ion-implanted LiNbO3 waveguides. In the nuclear stopping region, the extraordinary index is increased for low ion doses, by contrast with index reduction normally associated with ion-implanted waveguiding structures. The index increase was confirmed by fabricating a buried waveguide for the extraordinary index by use of multi-energy implants. For single-energy implants, data are shown which map the extraordinary index at the surface together with that in the nuclear collision zone, as a function of angle relative to the z axis of light propagation in surface waveguides for X and Y cut LiNbO3. These indices cross over near 45°, which results in a mode gap for which waveguide modes are not supported. A mechanism for this behavior is discussed based on defect-induced lattice relaxation. The phenomenon of a controlled mode gap may have applicability for optoelectronic and nonlinear materials and devices. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.