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Photonic crystal slab waveguides are created by inserting a linear defect in two-dimensional (2-D) periodic dielectric structures of finite height. Photonic crystals provide 2-D in-plane bandgaps through which light cannot propagate, however, the fact that the waveguide modes must be index-confined in the vertical direction implies that the propagation loss is strongly dependent on the out-of-plane radiation loss. We present a fully three-dimensional finite-difference time-domain numerical model for calculating the out-of-plane radiation loss in photonic crystal slab waveguides. The propagation loss of the single-line defect waveguide in 2-D triangular lattice photonic crystals is calculated for suspended membranes, oxidized lower claddings, and deeply etched structures. The results show that low-loss waveguides are achievable for sufficiently suspended membranes and oxidized lower cladding structures. The roles of the photonic crystal in out-of-plane loss of the waveguide modes are further analyzed. It is predicted that the out-of-plane radiation loss can be reduced by shifting one side of the photonic crystal cladding by one-half period with respect to the other sides along the propagation direction.

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This document was originally published by IEEE in IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics. Copyright restrictions may apply. DOI: 10.1109/JSTQE.2006.884785