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A Maskless Fabrication Approach Of Integrated Optical Waveguides For Engineering Technology Students

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Electromechanical & Manufacturing ET Curriculum

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.64.1 - 11.64.9



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Paper Authors

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Shuping Wang University of North Texas

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Vijay Vaidyanathan University of North Texas

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Maskless Fabrication Approach of Integrated Optical Waveguides for Engineering Technology Students Introduction

The optical waveguide is one of the fundamental components for optical integrated circuits1. The current technique used to fabricate polymer waveguide devices is mainly based on spin coating and photolithography patterning2. The technique requires fixed photomasks, which are inherently expensive and unaffordable for many engineering and engineering technology programs. Maskless writing techniques, including electron-beam direct writing3,4, ion-beam direct writing5, X-ray lithography6,7, and laser direct writing8,9, are alternate polymer waveguide fabrication approaches. Due to their high operation cost, first three maskless technologies are not suitable for teaching purpose. This paper presents a simple and inexpensive polymer optical waveguide fabrication approach, i.e. Laser Direct Writing (LDW), developed for our ELET 5320 (Introduction to Telecommunications) course. LDW waveguides will be produced in a single computer controlled step. This process eliminates all the complex steps associated with the definition of structures using photolithographic techniques. The development of this project would enable students to gain similar experience on photolithography with equipment that costs much less.

The polymer waveguide fabrication technique demonstrated in this paper could also be adopted by other engineering technology programs for courses in manufacturing, semiconductors, and microfabrication. The theory behind the polymer waveguide formation, i.e. LDW, introduced in this paper is identical to that of the photolithography technique. The waveguide fabrication processes (spin coating, photo resist developing, etc.) are the same for both approaches. We demonstrate that with the alternate and inexpensive approach of the LDW, the same quality level of student learning on integrated waveguide fabrications is achievable. We anticipate that concepts and experiences students gain through the project will prepare them to be job ready and productive from day one of their employment.

Laser Direct Writing Technology

LDW is a maskless, low-cost, approach for polymer micro structure fabrication. To fabricate a waveguide, the laser sensitive photoresist/polymer is spin coated on a substrate. Waveguide patterns are written by tracing a laser beam through objective lenses, which control the beam size and consequently the micro patterns’ size across the surface of the polymer film. The film will then be developed to remove the unexposed area. Combined with other equipment (substrate cleaning equipment, photoresist spinner, etc.), the fabrication system allows students to experience the entire polymer waveguide manufacture life cycle, including the selection of materials, substrate preparation, polymer spin coating, laser direct writing, waveguide inspections, etc.

Polymer Waveguide Fabrication Using Laser Direct Writing Technique

Polymer waveguides are multilayered structures which consist of the lower cladding layer, the core layer, and the upper cladding layer as depicted in Figure 1.

Wang, S., & Vaidyanathan, V. (2006, June), A Maskless Fabrication Approach Of Integrated Optical Waveguides For Engineering Technology Students Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--182

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