Graphene, as the first identified two dimensional material, has shown great electro-optic response via Pauli-blocking for near IR frequencies and modulating functionality. However, this ability to modulate light is fundamentally challenged by its small optical cross-section leading to miniscule modal confinement factors in diffraction-limited photonics despite intrinsically high electro-optic absorption modulation (EAM) potential given by its strong index change. Yet the inherent polarization anisotropy in graphene and device tradeoffs lead to additional requirements with respect to electric field directions and modal confinement. The extinction ratio of graphene based EAM has, so far, been limited due to the small light matter interaction given the monolayer structure nature. Here we report an ultra-compact graphene based EAM by integrating graphene with a plasmonic slot waveguide. We show that the modal confinement and hence the modulation strength of a single-layer modulated graphene in this plasmonically confined mode is able to improve by more than 10x compared to diffraction-limited modes. Combined with the strong-index modulation of graphene the modulation strength could achieve more than 1dB/um, which is more than 2-orders of magnitude higher compared to Silicon platform graphene modulators. Furthermore, the modal confinement was found to be synergistic with performance optimization via enhanced light-matter-interactions. These results show that there is room for scaling 2D material EAMs with respect to modal engineering towards realizing synergistic designs leading to high-performance modulators.
Zhizhen Ma, Mohammad Hossein Tahersima, Sikandar Khan, and Volker J. Sorger, "Graphene-based plasmonic slot electro-optic modulator (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10106, Integrated Optics: Devices, Materials, and Technologies XXI, 1010618 (Presented at SPIE OPTO: February 01, 2017; Published: 19 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2253191.5393342291001.
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