This Letter reports the use of an inductively coupled plasma technique for fabrication of proton-exchanged (PE) LiNbO3 (LN) waveguides. Planar and stripe waveguides have been formed in Y-cut LN which are difficult to obtain with the conventional molten acid method due to the occurrence of surface damage. Secondary ion mass spectrometry, scanning electron microscopy, and infrared absorption spectrum characterization results revealed that a uniform vertical PE profile with a single low order crystal phase has been directly obtained as a result of this unique process. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy characterization of the treated surface revealed the existence of NbO as the cause for a sometimes darkened surface and confirms the ability to completely restore the surface to LN by oxygen plasma treatment. Atomic force microscopy measurement confirms that good surface quality has been maintained after regeneration of the surface to LN
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