Researchers Develop Optical Modulators Using Graphene

A research team from the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) has found that graphene provides a superior active media for optical modulators.

Graphene-based optical modulators are believed to drastically improve ultrafast optical computing and communication. The research findings will be presented at the 2012 Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exhibition/National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference to be conducted in Los Angeles.

Modulators are essential components in communications because of their switching ability, which controls the transfer rate of data packets through networks. In other words, greater the speed of data pulses, greater the volume of data transmission.

Ming Liu, who is a post-doctoral researcher at the NSF Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center of UC Berkeley, informed that the team showed a small-footprint graphene-based optical modulator with high operational speed of 1.2 GHz at 3dB and a wide optical bandwidth ranging from 1.35 to 1.6 µm under ambient conditions. All these qualities are critical for optical interconnects for use in future integrated optoelectronic systems. A single hexagonal carbon atom layer’s modulation efficiency is equivalent to that of conventional semiconductor materials whose active volume is orders of magnitude higher.

Graphene-based optical modulators can be very small and are capable of performing at speeds up to 10 folds quicker than existing technologies, paving the way to stream full-length, high-definition, three-dimensional videos onto smartphones within seconds.

Liu’s presentation titled ‘Graphene-based optical modulators’ will be taken place on March 6 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.



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