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The rapidly growing optical communication market requires photonic components with ever-increasing functionality and complexity that can be fabricated reliably at low cost. Of the various approaches used to fabricate photonic components, those based on planar waveguides have achieved high performance and represent a promising path toward compact integration of optical functions. We present an overview of an approach used to produce an optical single-mode waveguide. Through its strong mode confinement, the approach makes it possible to integrate optical filter functions with higher functionality, as required for high-data-rate communication networks. The waveguide is based on the use of a silicon oxynitride (SiON) core and silicon oxide cladding layers, and can be fabricated using conventional chip fabrication techniques. Using the new approach, conventional passive optical components such as arrayed waveguide gratings for wavelength-division-multiplexed transmission systems can be fabricated in a more compact way than using standard silica-on-silicon waveguide methods. Moreover, the realization of more enhanced, adaptive optical functions such as finite-impulse-response as well as infinite-impulse-response filters is possible. Reconfiguration is achieved through the thermo-optic effect. A reconfigurable gain-flattening filter and an adaptive dispersion compensator are presented as examples.
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