Photonic Applications of Printed and Molded Nanostructures
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Many classes of components for integrated optics and optoelectronics rely on structures with nanometer features sizes (typically a fraction of the optical wavelength at which they operate) for couplers, filters, laser resonators, etc. Similar but more advanced devices that use photonic crystals as well as a variety of subwavelength elements for bulk optics also make use of arrays of nanostructures to achieve desired optical effects. Traditionally, techniques borrowed from the microelectronics industry, such as photolithography and electron beam lithography, have been employed for these applications. The operational complexity of these methods, their high capital costs, and certain inherent limitations associated with them create research interest in alternative fabrication techniques. Two relatively recent approaches to patterning photonic nanostructures use advanced forms of printing and molding, two of the conceptually oldest forms of lithography. These methods offer submicron resolution along with patterning capabilities that are well suited to this class of application. This article summarizes these methods and demonstrates their use in fabricating a range of components for integrated optics.