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We have theoretically designed and realized a phase shifter for a low-loss Mach-Zehnder interferometric switch. The phase shifter is based on 0.85% tensile strained InGaAs-InP chopped quantum-well material. We realized a Mach-Zehnder interferometric switch with polarization-independent switching voltages as low as 3.3/spl plusmn/0.05 V at 1525 nm for a switch with a 4-mm-long phase shifting section. The wavelength sensitivity of the switch is 0.036 V/nm for TE and 0.053 V/nm for TM polarization. Calculations of the electro-refraction in the -0.85% strained chopped quantum-well (QW) material based on the 4/spl times/4 Luttinger-Kohn Hamiltonian show that the electro-refraction due to the quantum-confined Stark effect (QCSE) for TM polarization is equal to the sum of the mutually comparable QCSE electro-refraction and the Pockels effect for TE polarization in waveguides along the [11~0] axis. Our first-principle model for calculating the electro refraction is an accurate design tool for predicting device performance in complicated layer structures. The shortest possible phase shifter with a <-25 dB crosstalk penalty due to electro-absorption unbalance can be as short as 2.2 mm. This compact switch is predicted to have a 6-V switching voltage and a 15-nm window for polarization-independent switching with a <-25-dB crosstalk penalty. With a slight increase of the strain, this chopped QW material can be used for polarization independent switching around 1550 nm.