Abstract: We report time-of-flight experiments on photonic-crystal waveguide structures using optical Kerr gating of a femtosecond white-light supercontinuum. These photonic-crystal structures, based on engineered silicon nitride slab waveguides, possess broadband low-loss guiding properties, allowing the group velocity dispersion of optical pulses to be directly tracked as a function of wavelength. This dispersion is shown to be radically disrupted by the spectral band gaps associated with the photonic-crystal periodicity. Increased time-of-flight effects, or “slowed light,” are clearly observed at the edges of band gaps in agreement with two-dimensional plane-wave theoretical models of group velocity dispersion. A universal model for slow light in such photonic crystals is proposed, which shows that slow light is controlled predominantly by the detuning from, and the size of, the photonic band gaps. Slowed light observed up to time delays of 1 ps, corresponds to anomalous dispersion of 3.5 ps/nm per mm of the photonic crystal structure. From the decreasing intensity of timegated slow light as a function of time delay, we estimate the characteristic losses of modes which are guided in the spectral proximity of the photonic band gaps
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