# A path integral approach to the coupled-mode equations with specific reference to optical waveguides

MSc

Thesis (MSc (Physics))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.

Thesis

The propagation of electromagnetic radiation in homogeneous or periodically modulated media can be described by the coupled mode equations. The aim of this study was to derive analytical expressions modeling the solutions of the coupled-mode equations, as alternative to the generally used numerical and transfer-matrix methods. The path integral formalism was applied to the coupled-mode equations. This approach involved deriving a path integral from which a generating functional was obtained. From the generating functional a Green’s function, or propagator, describing the nature of mode propagation was extracted. Initially a Green’s function was derived for the propagation of modes having position independent coupling coefficients. This corresponds to modes propagating in a homogeneous medium or in a uniform grating formed by a periodic variation of the index of refraction along the direction of propagation. This was followed by the derivation of a Green’s function for the propagation of modes having position dependent coupling coefficients with the aid of perturbation theory. This models propagation through a nonuniform inhomogeneous medium, specifically a modulated grating. The propagator method was initially tested for the case of propagation in an arbitrary homogeneous medium. In doing so three separate cases were considered namely the copropagation of two modes in the forward and backward directions followed by the counter propagation of the two modes. These more trivial cases were used as examples to develop a rigorous mathematical formalism for this approach. The results were favourable in that the propagator’s results compared well with analytical and numerical solutions. The propagator method was then tested for mode propagation in a periodically perturbed waveguide. This corresponds to the relevant application of mode propagation in uniform gratings in optical fibres. Here two case were investigated. The first scenario was that of the copropagation of two modes in a long period transmission grating. The results achieved compared well with numerical results and analytical solutions. The second scenario was the counter propagation of two modes in a short period reflection grating, specifically a Bragg grating. The results compared well with numerical results and analytical solutions. In both cases it was shown that the propagator accurately predicts many of the spectral properties of these uniform gratings. Finally the propagator method was applied to a nonuniform grating, that is a grating for which the uniform periodicity is modulated - in this case by a raised-cosine function. The result of this modulation is position dependent coupling coefficients necessitating the use of the Green’s function derived using perturbation theory. The results, although physically sensible and qualitatively correct, did not compare well to the numerical solution or the well established transfer-matrix method on a quantitative level at wavelengths approaching the design wavelength of the grating. This can be explained by the breakdown of the assumptions of first order perturbation theory under these conditions.