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Nature. 2000 Oct 26;407(6807):983-6.

Three-dimensional control of light in a two-dimensional photonic crystal slab.

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  • 1Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185, USA.


Optoelectronic devices are increasingly important in communication and information technology. To achieve the necessary manipulation of light (which carries information in optoelectronic devices), considerable efforts are directed at the development of photonic crystals--periodic dielectric materials that have so-called photonic bandgaps, which prohibit the propagation of photons having energies within the bandgap region. Straightforward application of the bandgap concept is generally thought to require three-dimensional (3D) photonic crystals; their two-dimensional (2D) counterparts confine light in the crystal plane, but not in the perpendicular z direction, which inevitably leads to diffraction losses. Nonetheless, 2D photonic crystals still attract interest because they are potentially more amenable to fabrication by existing techniques and diffraction losses need not seriously impair utility. Here we report the fabrication of a waveguide-coupled photonic crystal slab (essentially a free-standing 2D photonic crystal) with a strong 2D bandgap at wavelengths of about 1.5 microm, yet which is capable of fully controlling light in all three dimensions. These features confirm theoretical calculations on the possibility of achieving 3D light control using 2D bandgaps, with index guiding providing control in the third dimension, and raise the prospect of being able to realize unusual photonic-crystal devices, such as thresholdless lasers.

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