A wavelength router to be used for fiber optical networking router is based on a diffraction grating which utilizes only N wavelengths to interconnect N inputs to N outputs. The basic approach is to augment the grating with additional couplers or wavelength selective elements so than N-1 of the 2N-1 outputs are combined with other N outputs (leaving only N outputs). One embodiment uses directional couplers as combiners. Another embodiment uses wavelength-selective couplers. Another embodiment uses a pair of diffraction gratings to maintain parallel propagation of all optical beams. Also, beam combining can be implemented either by using retroflection back through the grating pair or by using couplers.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.