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A semiconductor hollow-core waveguide using high-contrast gratings or photonic crystal claddings and a method of manufacturing the same includes providing a layered semiconductor structure; creating an etching mask pattern over the layered semiconductor structure; performing a combined cycled directional etching process on the layered semiconductor structure in one sequence and in one lithography level to create a 3-dimensional waveguide structure; and creating a hollow air core in the layered semiconductor structure by removing to define a shape of the waveguide. The etching process comprises vertically etching a series of deep trenches on the layered semiconductor structure with precise control and varying the width of the trench. Furthermore, the hollow air core is created by removing a portion of the sacrificial material located in the center of the waveguide and under the waveguide.