The evolution of optical communication systems has facilitated the required bandwidth to meet the increasing data rate demands. However, as the peripheral technologies have progressed to meet the requirements of advanced systems, an abundance of viable solutions and products have emerged. The finite market for these products will inevitably force a paradigm shift upon the communications industry. Monolithic integration is a key technology that will facilitate this
shift as it will provide solutions at low cost with reduced power dissipation and foot-print in the form of highly functional optical components based on photonic integrated circuits (PICs). In this manuscript, we discuss the advantages, potential applications, and challenges of photonic integration. After a brief overview of various integration techniques, we present our novel approaches to increase the performance of the individual components comprising highly functional PICs.© (2006) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.