Concept

Optical ring resonators

Summary
An optical ring resonator is a set of waveguides in which at least one is a closed loop coupled to some sort of light input and output. (These can be, but are not limited to being, waveguides.) The concepts behind optical ring resonators are the same as those behind whispering galleries except that they use light and obey the properties behind constructive interference and total internal reflection. When light of the resonant wavelength is passed through the loop from the input waveguide, the light builds up in intensity over multiple round-trips owing to constructive interference and is output to the output bus waveguide which serves as a detector waveguide. Because only a select few wavelengths will be at resonance within the loop, the optical ring resonator functions as a filter. Additionally, as implied earlier, two or more ring waveguides can be coupled to each other to form an add/drop optical filter. Optical ring resonators work on the principles behind total internal reflection, constructive interference, and optical coupling. Total internal reflection The light travelling through the waveguides in an optical ring resonator remain within the waveguides due to the ray optics phenomenon known as total internal reflection (TIR). TIR is an optical phenomenon that occurs when a ray of light strikes the boundary of a medium and fails to refract through the boundary. Given that the angle of incidence is larger than the critical angle (with respect to the normal of the surface) and the refractive index is lower on the other side of the boundary relative to the incident ray, TIR will occur and no light will be able to pass through. For an optical ring resonator to work well, total internal reflection conditions must be met and the light travelling through the waveguides must not be allowed to escape by any means. Interference (wave propagation) Interference is the process by which two waves superimpose to form a resultant wave of greater or less amplitude.
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