Planar ZrO2 waveguides prepared by the sol-gel process: Structural and optical properties

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ZrO2 waveguides are prepared by the sol-gel process from a solution containing zirconiumn-propoxide and acetylacetone in propanol-2. Structural characterizations are investigated for different annealing temperatures using suitable techniques including Waveguide Raman Spectroscopy, Electron Microscopy and Atomic Force Microscopy. Films are amorphous at 300°C and the pure ZrO2 tetragonal crystalline phase appears beyond 400°C. Crystallized films present a dense, uniform and polycrystalline structure made up by randomly oriented nanocrystallites, the diameter of which increases from 38 Å at 400°C to 53 Å at 600°C. Waveguides are at least monomode TE0 at 632.8 nm. At this wavelength, optical losses are about, 0.8±0.2dB/cm for amorphous layers and increase up to 2.5±0.4 dB/cm for 600°C heat-treated waveguides.