High-speed plasmonic modulator in a single metal layer

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Science  03 Nov 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6363, pp. 630-632
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan5953

Ultrafast plasmonic modulation

Plasmonics converts light into propagating electrical signals. This approach could allow us to shrink optical components to the nanometer scale, far below the hundreds of wavelengths typically set by conventional optics. Ayata et al. fabricated a plasmonic modulator from a single layer of gold using a substrate-independent process. They created a device with a footprint less than the cross-sectional area of a human hair and with modulation rates exceeding 100 GHz, which could provide a flexible platform for future ultrafast plasmonic technology.

Science, this issue p. 630


Plasmonics provides a possible route to overcome both the speed limitations of electronics and the critical dimensions of photonics. We present an all-plasmonic 116–gigabits per second electro-optical modulator in which all the elements—the vertical grating couplers, splitters, polarization rotators, and active section with phase shifters—are included in a single metal layer. The device can be realized on any smooth substrate surface and operates with low energy consumption. Our results show that plasmonics is indeed a viable path to an ultracompact, highest-speed, and low-cost technology that might find many applications in a wide range of fields of sensing and communications because it is compatible with and can be placed on a wide variety of materials.

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