PLC in Advanced Optical Instrumentation
Optical instrumentation products have traditionally been built almost exclusively with bulk-optic components. More recently there has been an increasing need for miniaturization of these instruments, along with a further need for increased functionality. In the past several years, Planar Lightwave circuit (PLC) technology, originally developed for telecommunications, has been adapted for use in optical instrumentation products. These PLCs have been used mainly for passive optical elements, as a means of miniaturizing optical routing and filtering. But recent advances in PLC design, processing, and hybridization techniques allow for active elements such as lasers, detectors, phase shifters, and other key building blocks to be integrated directly on a PLC platform.