A team of researchers has successfully built a tiny on-chip lithium niobate modulator, a critical component in the optoelectronic industry. The modulator is smaller, has more efficient data transmission, and is less expensive. Technology is poised to transform the industry. The electro-optic modulator developed in this groundbreaking study is only 1 to 2 cm long and has a surface area 100 times smaller than traditional ones.
It is also extremely efficient, with higher data transmission speeds and bandwidth tripling from 35 to 100 GHz while consuming less energy and having ultra-low optical losses. The discovery paves the way for future high-speed, low-power, low-cost communication networks, and quantum photonic computation.
The study, “Integrated lithium niobate electro-optic modulators operating at CMOS-compatible voltages,” was published in the most recent issue of Nature.
Modern communications rely heavily on electro-optic modulators. They convert high-speed electronic signals in computational devices like computers to optical signals before sending them via optical fibers. However, current and widely used lithium niobate modulators require a high drive voltage of 3 to 5V, which is significantly higher than the 1V provided by typical CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) circuitry. As a result, an electrical amplifier is required, which makes the entire device bulky, expensive, and energy-intensive.