Lithium niobate thin films were deposited on sapphire substrate by radio-frequency magnetron sputtering technique. One and two dimensional structures have been made using a KrF excimer laser at 248 nm and 6 ns pulse width, under various conditions of ablation, in order to assess the applicability of laser direct-writing of photonic waveguides. The optical and waveguiding properties of LiNbO3 thin films were studied by prism-coupling technique, while micro-Raman spectroscopy was used for structural and composition characterization, as well as laser processing mechanism investigation. The surface morphology of the processed structures was obtained by a Nomarski optical microscope, an atomic force microscope and a White Light Interferometer Microscope. (c) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.