We develop a perturbative theory to describe optical propagation in subwavelength rod waveguides. In this approach, we account for loss and nonlinearity in the boundary conditions. A comparison to the traditional perturbative approach used in optical fibers reveals that the surface contribution provides a significant nonlinearity enhancement in the subwavelength regime. We further compare the nonlinearity enhancement of metallic, dielectric, and semiconductor waveguides, in addition to determining the attenuation coefficient of metallic nanowires. Â© 2011 American Physical Society.
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