We consider thin film light guides consisting of a transparent film of high refractive index deposited on a substrate of lower index. The propagation of light in such a two-dimensional transmission medium can be described within the limits of geometrical optics by an effective index of refraction N. Its value depends on the film thickness. Therefore, a light beam in the thin film guide is refracted or totally reflected at a step of film thickness. We discuss these phenomena (Snell’s law) and demonstrate them experimentally, using ZnS films on glass as guides. As applications, we show a thin film prism and thin film lenses for guided light beams. By properly choosing the film thicknesses at both sides of the step, one can obtain an unusually large positive or negative wavelength dispersion of the refraction or, if desired, achromatic refraction.
© 1971 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: April 21, 1971
Published: September 1, 1971
R. Ulrich and R. J. Martin, "Geometrical Optics in Thin Film Light Guides," Appl. Opt. 10, 2077-2085 (1971)