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Nature. 2004 Feb 12;427(6975):615-8.

A high-speed silicon optical modulator based on a metal-oxide-semiconductor capacitor.

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Intel Corporation, 2200 Mission College Blvd, CHP3-109, Santa Clara, California 95054, USA.


Silicon has long been the optimal material for electronics, but it is only relatively recently that it has been considered as a material option for photonics. One of the key limitations for using silicon as a photonic material has been the relatively low speed of silicon optical modulators compared to those fabricated from III-V semiconductor compounds and/or electro-optic materials such as lithium niobate. To date, the fastest silicon-waveguide-based optical modulator that has been demonstrated experimentally has a modulation frequency of only approximately 20 MHz (refs 10, 11), although it has been predicted theoretically that a approximately 1-GHz modulation frequency might be achievable in some device structures. Here we describe an approach based on a metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) capacitor structure embedded in a silicon waveguide that can produce high-speed optical phase modulation: we demonstrate an all-silicon optical modulator with a modulation bandwidth exceeding 1 GHz. As this technology is compatible with conventional complementary MOS (CMOS) processing, monolithic integration of the silicon modulator with advanced electronics on a single silicon substrate becomes possible.


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