Much attention is currently being paid to the materials and processes that allow one to directly write or to imprint waveguiding structures and/or diffractive elements for optical integrated circuits by exposure from a source of photons, electrons or ions. Here a brief overview of the results achieved in our laboratories is presented, concerning the fabrication and characterization of optical guiding structures based on different materials and exposure techniques. These approaches include: electron and ion beam writing of waveguides in (poly)-crystalline lithium fluoride, uv-laser printing of waveguides and gratings in photorefractive glass thin films, and fs-laser writing in tellurite glasses. Properties and perspectives of these approaches are also discussed.© (2005) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.