7 December 2021

[Photonic] – Meta-waveguides for advanced integrated photonics applications.

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The concepts of metamaterials and metasurfaces have spawned massive novel applications in free-space optics. However, recent research also indicates that they possess prominent potential for tailoring the electromagnetic modes in optical waveguides.

Conventional optical waveguides are generally restrained by the limited library of waveguide structures and their functionalities are primarily only light guiding and confinement. Nevertheless, with the aid of subwavelength meta-structures, optical waveguides can be devised with largely increased degrees of freedom.

In a recent review paper published in Light: Science & Applications (“Optical meta-waveguides for integrated photonics and beyond”), an international team of researchers has comprehensively reviewed recent progress in meta-waveguides-based devices and applications, including a broad range of photonic devices and systems that synergize functional meta-structures with diverse waveguide platforms (dielectric/plasmonic waveguides and optical fibers).

The review systematically catalogs foundational results and representative applications. It also elaborates on underlying physical models with both forward- and inverse-design tutorials.

The authors highlight “how incorporating the concepts of meta-optics with waveguide technologies can propel photonic integrated circuits into new heights, by providing versatile efficient coupling interfaces, novel on-chip optical signal processing paradigms and diverse platforms for sensing, imaging and artificial intelligence”.

Current hurdles and potential research perspectives for this vibrant field are outlined in detail.

As the subwavelength architectures have offered a versatile playground to manipulate the propagation and coupling of electromagnetic waves, waveguide-based devices can be either largely enhanced in device performance, or further expanded towards previous hardly accessible novel functionalities. Various emerging opportunities are still awaiting.

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