Date of Award

Spring 2002

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Physics - (Ph.D.)


Federated Physics Department

First Advisor

John Francis Federici

Second Advisor

Kenneth Rudolph Farmer

Third Advisor

N. M. Ravindra

Fourth Advisor

Pushpendra Singh

Fifth Advisor

Haimin Wang


This thesis involves the design, fabrication and characterization of an integrated optical waveguide sensor. Prior to fabrication, design parameters of the waveguide need to be determined and optimized. The waveguide parameters such as waveguide dimension and the refractive index of the core and cladding are obtained from the single-mode cutoff frequency calculated using either analytical or numerical methods. In this thesis, details of analytical calculations to determine the cutoff frequency in terms of the waveguide parameters will be presented. The method discussed here is Marcatili's approximation. The purpose is to solve the scalar wave equation derived from Maxwell's equations because it describes the mode properties inside the waveguides. The Finite Element Method is used to simulate the electric and magnetic fields inside the waveguides and to determine the propagation characteristics in optical waveguides. This method is suited for problems involving complicated geometries and variable index of refraction.

Fabrication of the Integrated Mach-Zehnder Interferometer sensor involves several important standard processes such as Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) for thin film fabrication, photolithography for mask transfer, and etching for ridge waveguide formation. The detailed fabrication procedures of the tested Mach-Zehnder Interferometer sensors are discussed.

After completion of the sensor fabrication processes, the characterizations were carried out for the thin film of Si02 and PSG, the waveguides and the Y-junction separately. The waveguides were analyzed to make sure that the sensors are working as expected. The experimental testing on the separated waveguide portions of the first batch Integrated Mach-Zehnder Interferometer (MZI) sensors are described. These testing procedures were also performed for the subsequent fabricated batches of the integrated MZI sensors until optimum performance is achieved.

A new concept has been proposed for chemical sensing applications. The novelty of the approach is mainly based on utilizing the multi -wavelength or broadband source instead of single wavelength input to the integrated MZI. The shifting of output spectra resulting from the interference has shown the ability of the MZI to analyze the different concentrations of a chemical analyte. The sensitivity of the sensor is also determined from the plot of intensity versus concentration, which is around 0.013 (%ml)-1 and 0.007 (%ml)-1 for the white light source and the 1.5 ~tm broadband source, respectively, while the lowest detectable concentration of ethanol for the sensor detection is around 8% using a intensity variation method and 0.6% using a peak wavelength variation method.

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