The dispersion of a coupled resonator optical waveguide made of photonic crystal mode-gap cavities is pronouncedly asymmetric. This asymmetry cannot be explained by the standard tight binding model. We show that the fundamental cause of the asymmetric dispersion is the inherent dispersive cavity mode profile; i.e., the mode wave function depends on the driving frequency, not the eigenfrequency. This occurs because the photonic crystal cavity resonances do not form a complete set. We formulate a dispersive mode coupling model that accurately describes the asymmetric dispersion without introducing any new free parameters.
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