Refractive index change is shown to be induced by the irradiation of ultraviolet photons in hydrogenated amorphous silicon oxynitride films prepared by plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition. The mechanism of the index change and its dependence on the nitrogen content were investigated by electron spin resonance and scanning electron microscopy. It is concluded that the index change is due mainly to densification, and that the contribution of the formation of paramagnetic defects is only slight. To demonstrate the versatility of this refractive index change, a planar diffraction grating was fabricated.
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