Big energy savings: Building the world’s smallest electro-optic modulator

 

  • An electro-optic modulator plays the key role in fiber optic networks. Just as a transistor is a switch for electronic signals, an electro-optic modulator is a switch for optical signals.
  • Optical communication uses light, so the modulator turns on and off the light that sends a stream of binary signals over optical fibers.
  • The new modulator is 10 times smaller and can potentially be 100 times more energy efficient than the best previous devices.
  • It is roughly the size of a bacterium, measuring 0.6 by 8 microns.
  • The structure researcher invented uses a transparent conductive oxide gate instead of a typical metal gate to combine a metal-oxide semiconductor capacitor with an ultra-compact photonic crystal nanocavity.
  • The design, combining innovations in materials and devices, enhanced the interaction between electronics and photonics, which enabled the researchers to create a smaller electro-optic modulator.
  • Reducing the size and the energy consumption is going to be the trend in the next five to 10 years in industry. So this is exactly the kind of device we’re looking for.

 

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