There is a trend in photonic circuits to move to smaller device dimensions for improved cost efficiency and device performance. However, the trend also comes at some cost to performance, notably in the polarisation dependence of the circuits, the difficulty in coupling to the circuits, and in some cases, in increased device complexity. This paper discusses a range of Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) based optical devices, and the advantages and disadvantages in moving to smaller waveguide dimensions. In particular optical phase modulators based upon the plasma dispersion effect and ring resonators are considered, together with a device for coupling to small waveguides, the so-called Dual Grating Assisted Directional Coupler (DGADC). The advantages of moving to small dimensions are considered, and some preliminary experimental results are given. In particular, progress of the DGADC is evaluated in the light of promising experimental results.© (2004) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.