A method for manufacturing low-cost, nearly circular cross section waveguides comprises starting with a substrate material that a molten waveguide material can not wet or coat. A thin layer is deposited of an opposite material that the molten waveguide material will wet and is patterned to describe the desired surface-contact path pedestals for a waveguide. A waveguide material, e.g., polymer or doped silica, is deposited. A resist material is deposited and unwanted excess is removed to form pattern masks. The waveguide material is etched away to form waveguide precursors and the masks are removed. Heat is applied to reflow the waveguide precursors into near-circular cross-section waveguides that sit atop the pedestals. The waveguide material naturally forms nearly circular cross sections due to the surface tension effects. After cooling, the waveguides will maintain the round shape. If the width and length are the same, then spherical ball lenses are formed. Alternatively, the pedestals can be patterned to taper along their lengths on the surface of the substrate. This will cause the waveguides to assume a conical taper after reflowing by heat.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.